June 11, 2020 — “Many gigabit passive optical networks will exhaust in the 2020s, as bandwidth demands have been accelerated by COVID-19,” said Ed Harstead, lead technologist at Nokia, at a webinar hosted by the Fiber Broadband Association on Thursday.
Panelists predicted that gigabit networks offering both upload and download speeds of 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) will be the go-to technology of the next decade. Fiber networks, both passive optical networks and active ethernet networks, are the infrastructure that bring optical fiber cabling and signals to end users.
Fueled by increased telework, Internet of Things and cloud computing, bandwidth demands are projected to continue to increase in the coming years. These technologies demand low latency, hyper responsive networks.
As the United States prepares to deploy more fiber networks, it is crucial to attempt to limit architecture change, said Teresa McGaughey, senior director of solutions marketing at Calix. McGaughey recommended that service providers attempt to build future-proof networks.
McGaughey argued that 10 Gbps services are important in all locations, but noted that key clients driving the demand for deployment of 10 Gbps passive optic networks are businesses and multi-tenant housing units.
South Korea is already leading the way in regard to upgrading its networks to next-generation fiber-optic technology. The country aims to offer 10 Gbps speeds to approximately 50 percent of subscribers by the end of 2022.
Chinese vendors are already pushing forward to develop 50 Gbps optic networks, while other vendors are considering a 25 Gbps optic network upgrade path.
Currently, demand for 10 Gbps optical networks appears limited; it is rare for American consumers to require speeds faster than 1 Gbps upload/download.
Nevertheless, panelists said, the demand may be closer than expected.