Verizon Plants Seeds for Faster Broadband

Verizon Communications still feels the need, the need for speed. Though Verizon’s broadband future is expected to hinge on new 5G-based wireless technologies, the telco isn’t ignoring its fiber network. It’s pushing ahead with a plan to usher in multi-Gigabit speeds via an upgrade that will enable its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) platform to keep pace with emerging DOCSIS technologies that are being deployed by cable operators.

Verizon said it achieved a key technical milestone for NG-PON2, a next-gen FTTP standard that supports up to 40 Gigabits per second of capacity, after wrapping up an interoperability lab trial.

Verizon said a handful of vendors — Adtran, Broadcom, Cortina Access and Ericsson (in partnership with Calix) — participated in an interoperability trial that aligned with the telco’s Open OMCI (ONT Management and Control Interface) specifications. Those specs define the interface linking the two ends of the FTTP network: the optical line terminal (OLT) and the optical network terminal (ONT).

Verizon called the interop a “breakthrough” because it’s a step toward a platform that will enable the mixing and matching of vendors for various components for NG-PON2, which supports up to 40 Gbps of total capacity and symmetrical speeds of up 10 Gbps per customer.

Verizon said interoperability would give it the opportunity to broaden its equipment selection, deploy new features more rapidly and ensure that the platform complies with the NG-PON2 standards.

If something happens to an existing supplier, for example, interoperability ensures that Verizon will have a “seamless path” to another vendor, Dr. Denis Khotimsky, distinguished member of the technical staff at Verizon, explained.

NG-PON2 is poised to be “the first [PON] technology we’ll deploy that is interoperable from day one,” he said, noting that Verizon is in the RFP (request for proposal) stage for products that support the new platform.

Verizon’s current FTTP networks for Fios use both the BPON and GPON flavors of PON, but the technologies used for them are not interoperable, so those systems are partitioned geographically while also requiring Verizon to use the same vendor for each endpoint of those systems.

Khotimsky said it’s too early to speculate on when NG-PON2 will be ready for commercial deployments. “We’ll proceed with deployment once we see the technology to be mature, cost efficient and when we see the customer demand for the services it provides,” he said.

While vendor interoperability is a goal of NG-PON2, it has been common for cable’s DOCSIS platform —from the network components to the modems — since the get-go.

NG-PON2 is also emerging amid competition from new DOCSIS technologies. The latest, Full-Duplex DOCSIS, is an extension of DOCSIS 3.1 that aims for symmetrical speeds of up to 10 Gbps.