Nokia inches forward with its 100G PON tech

Finland’s Nokia has hit the heady heights of 100-Gbps broadband using its latest passive optical networking (PON) technology.

The kit maker is at Fiber Connect in Nashville this week, giving attendees a glimpse at how quickly they could one day download country music with a prototype version of its 100G PON technology. Developed by its Bell Labs arm, the prototype managed to reach 100-Gbps on the downlink over a single wavelength, avoiding the need to combine multiple, lower-speed wavelengths. That represents a four-fold increase compared to current optical technologies.

“Fibre is the ultimate broadband infrastructure. It has almost unlimited capacity with only changes to the electronics at either end needed to increase speed,” said Stefaan Vanhastel, CTO, Nokia Fixed Networks, in a statement on Monday. “Today, fibre can already deliver 10G and 25G speeds. 50G will be available in the second half of this decade. With this proof-of-concept demo, we show that 100G is already within reach; all with the fibre network infrastructure that is being built today.”

The milestone was achieved using advanced digital signal processing (DSP) techniques, which are apparently what’s needed for all PON technologies that want to go above and beyond 25G. The showcase also simulated real-world conditions with regard to fibre distance and power split.

However, these virtual real-world conditions and the 100-Gbps downlink speed appear to be the only points of difference between this week’s announcement and one that Nokia shared in February 2021. Back then, it carried out a trial of its 100G PON prototype in one of Vodafone Germany’s labs using those aforementioned DSP techniques, which it said at the time paves the way for 100-Gbps broadband. So, while showing off a 100-Gbps broadband connection – with an added soupçon of the ‘real world’ – does represent progress over the last 16 months, it is perhaps not the Earth-shattering development that Nokia would have us believe.

US FTTH provider Metronet is also progressing with its PON plans. The telco is rolling out Nokia’s XGS-PON technology initially in eight markets with more to follow. The new kit will enable it to offer up to 10 Gbps to subscribers, and provides an upgrade path to 25G PON further down the line. Metronet is in the midst of a network expansion programme across its 16-state footprint, including most recently communities in Colorado, Florida and North Carolina.

“Nokia is our trusted partner, and its technology is enabling us to future-proof our investments in fibre as we continue to expand our network,” said Kevin Stelmach, president of commercial markets at Metronet. “We are also able to future-proof the cities and communities that we serve with a communications network that can grow with them, encouraging business investment with virtually limitless capacity available when and where it’s needed.

In addition to selling gear for upgrading broadband in towns and cities, Nokia has also turned its attention to rural FTTH. It has launched a Rural Broadband Relief Programme for regional US service providers that are struggling to complete their deployments in underserved areas due to component shortages affecting the supply of telecoms equipment.

Nokia’s fibre network in a box is comprised of the necessary FTTH equipment, software licenses, support, and in-home Wi-Fi gateways required to serve a typical town of 1,000 households. The kits support GPON and XGS-PON over a single port and fibre using Nokia’s Multi-PON-Module (MPM) technology.

“The pandemic magnified the importance of having broadband regardless of a household’s geographical location. Families residing in rural communities, particularly those with school-aged children, suffered greatly from a lack of broadband and ability to participate in remote learning,” said Sandy Motley, president, Fixed Networks at Nokia. “We want to support the operators launching in hyper-localised markets but who cannot secure broadband equipment in these difficult times.”

Eligible telcos can sign up here for expedited delivery of an FTTH network-in-a-box kit.


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