FTTH in China: Juggling 100 million users

Julie Kunstler/Ovum
23 Sep 2011

China International Optoelectronic Expo (CIOE) held its 13th annual conference in Shenzhen, China; the FTTH/ODN/OTN China Conference (FOOCC) ran concurrently. Previously called the China Lightwave Conference, the FOOCC has broadened it focus beyond FTTH to include optical distribution networks and optical transport networks.

China’s service providers will have substantial fiber networks under management with millions of fibers and many millions of ONU/ONT devices sitting at customer premises. China Telecom is building an FTTH network that will reach 100 million homes by 2014. Within Shanghai, a city of 23 million people, Shanghai Telecom will pass 50% of the city’s 9 million households by year-end 2011 and 100% by year-end 2012.

The focus of service providers and equipment vendors is shifting from debates around PON technologies to lowering the costs of fiber deployment and long-term fiber network management. China’s service providers are developing internal standards for ODN but open, shared standards are unlikely to emerge.

The EPON-versus-GPON debate misses the point; China is deploying both

In earlier conferences, communications chip companies presented respective views on GPON versus EPON. The panel discussions at this year’s conference were intense and the audience hung on every word in a presentation from Wang Bo, Business Manager of the Technology Department of China Telecom, in which he discussed PON specifications, testing of EPON and GPON, and the subsequent results. While his presentation was central to the conference, his topics included not just EPON, GPON, and 10G PON but also installation and remote management of CPE (customer premise equipment).

Both EPON and GPON are being deployed in China. EPON OLT port shipments for China represented more than 60% of all PON OLT ports for China’s consumption in the first and second quarters of this year. Initial China Telecom provincial FTTx network rollouts began with EPON and are continuing with EPON, while newer FTTx networks are beginning with GPON.

10G EPON deployments have begun in several provinces in China. According to Wang Bo, XG-PON (10G GPON) is behind 10G EPON in maturity and interoperability; however, we expect to see XG-PON deployments in the future. Bottom line, China will deploy both flavors of 10G PON over time.

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