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Power to the home

How optical networks are evolving to boost fibre to the home data rates. By Roy Rubenstein.

Tucked away in one aisle at the Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) exhibition in March was a wonder in pcb optical-electronic integration. Teknovus, a passive optical network (PON) chipmaker, working with optical transceiver company Furukawa, showed an Ethernet PON (EPON) modem – an optical network unit (ONU) – in a small form factor pluggable (SFP) transceiver.
The ONU provides the high speed broadband connection to a home and packaged within a SFP, it is little bigger than a flash memory stick. The pluggable ONU will encourage the use of PONs by enterprises, since the transceiver is used widely as an Ethernet switch interface.
PON is the carriers’ preferred access scheme, viewed as the most economical way to bring fibre to the home (FTTH). Carriers must considering whether to invest in digital subscriber line (dsl) technology or to make the jump to fibre. A key factor swaying carriers to PON is the need higher bandwidth video on demand and IPTV services. DSL promises to deliver up to 50Mbit/s, but requires copper spans of less than 300m, after which, the bandwidth drops. Carriers can invest in bringing cabinets housing very high speed dsl (vdsl) equipment closer to the home or invest in fibre that will support vastly greater data rates.

Roy Rubenstein

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