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Passive Optical Networks Need to Transform As More Americans Rely on Fiber at Home

Elijah Labby

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Photo from PxHere used with permission

May 7, 2020 - Current passive optical network technology will have to transform if it wants to survive, said Adtran product line manager Javier Lopez in a Thursday webinar hosted by the Fiber Broadband Association.

 

The coronavirus pandemic has created a traffic surge that gives a glimpse into the future of passive optical networks, Lopez said. The fiber optic companies that enable them should continue to improve them so that new technologies will be available when increased usage surpasses the current technology's ability to accommodate it.

Americans are using these networks to work from home as well as to stream movies and TV shows, play video games and monitor their properties constantly with smart homes and security cameras.

 

The top-tier broadband companies are reporting an average increase of more than 100 percent, Lopez said. 

At this rate, he added, broadband companies will see five times more network usage in the next five years — a number that is not sustainable with current gigabit passive optical network infrastructure.

 

A worst-case scenario shows the current technology unable to provide high-speed internet for Americans as early as 2026. 

The next evolution in the so-called “GPON” technology will be the transition to 10 Gigabit networks, even for residential purposes, Lopez said.

These transitions could come as early as 2021, he said, and would bring a higher return on investment.

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