GPON architecture is Growing

GPON Architecture is Growing

Next Stop, Direct Connect for the End Users

Written by Jeff Dominique, FNT Consulting & Training

With the recent introduction of Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON), the telecom industry is heating up fast in relation to cabling standards for both OSP and ISP installations to embrace this exciting new architecture.

Deployment of GPON spells a massive change in how we currently cable buildings and those who are well prepared for the change with the appropriate knowledge and skill sets, promise to be the leaders in the new face of telecommunications.

What is GPON?

GPON is a service delivery standard that has been refined over the last 10 years to provide a low cost and easily scalable optical solution to meet increasing consumer bandwidth demands.  It has evolved through a series of trial and error concepts on service delivery platforms such as APON, BPON and EPON to emerge on top, providing a reliable deployment strategy with bandwidth front and center.

GPON, which combines existing WDM and TDM transmission protocols, utilizes a series of passive optical splitters to distribute a condensed fiber signal to multiple end users or devices. Since these splitter devices are passive, they require no power or HVAC temperature control equipment for operation. This makes deployment of passive splitters at ISP nodes ideal as you remove wired electrical devices from cabinets that cost a significant amount to maintain and create an additional fail point. GPON relies on singlemode optical cable which provides distance capabilities of up to 60 kilometers (37 miles) to easily meet standard metropolitan delivery network requirements.

Originally developed for the OSP environment, the GPON architecture is now rapidly extending inside commercial, industrial and multi-dwelling residential buildings to provide incredible bandwidth performance direct to the end user while reducing network installation costs. This new development coincides almost simultaneously with the advent of high bandwidth Wireless Access Point technologies. A GPON fiber entering a building actually becomes the backbone cabling itself, where it is now possible to deliver virtually every service imaginable on a hybrid wireless/fiber WAP network without the need for individual low voltage Cat 5e or Cat 6 cable desktop drops.


Upon arrival of the all-encompassing signal, it meets up with an Optical Network Terminal ONT where the passive signal is split and distributed to internal building component, either via hard wire or on Wireless Access Points.  For the time being, some building owners will continue to deploy hard wired technology, simply because standards provides for such.  However, those who are in tune with the environmental aspects and future-proofing benefits of Smart Building technologies will opt for GPON direct to wireless distributors.

Upon delivery of GPON to the end user Optical Network Terminal(s), the signal can be passively distributed throughout even the largest of buildings using single or dual fiber CWDM Course Wave Division Multiplexing circuit.

What is optical multiplexing and how does it make this technology possible?

CWDM enables us to carry multiple wavelengths, each with its own gigabit information channel, to any and all devices throughout a building. This includes Smart Building circuits to control lighting, temperature, access control, building lock-down, fire prevention, security surveillance cameras, etc.  Additionally, other CWDM wavelengths, operating on the same fiber pair, can deliver television, computer data services, Layer 3 IP services, cellular boost services and so on.  For critical circuits that serve the security and protection aspects of a Smart Building, they now make a type of fiber optic cable that is impervious to the extreme temperatures and destruction experienced during a building fire.

With CWDM deployed throughout a building, the pathway sizes for cabling diminish significantly, resulting in improved fire proofing, less structural weight stresses and a much cleaner installation. It removes thousands of feet of coax and ethernet cabling clogging building wiring space and replaces it with a single small diameter fiber cable. What used to require full telecom closets on each floor of a building, can now be achieved with a single passive CWDM cassette that fits in a standard lockable wall mount optical enclosure. 

Within the past decade, the US Government implemented a similar concept on Navy vessels, virtually gutting all copper control and data circuits and replacing them with fiber optic CWDM circuits.  The result was astounding, with so much weight removed that aircraft carriers literally floated with their propellers above the water line.  Until one starts to imagine the combined weight of several copper cable bundles, It's hard to envision the stress that we place on structures with the added weight of copper that runs virtually everywhere within a building.

CWDM technology is a concept that has recently gained popularity with the introduction of multiple switch SFP Small Form Pluggable modules.  SFP modules are the small transceiver devices that plug and play into existing switch ports and in turn interface with the switch backplane for information processing purposes.  At one time, not long ago, the SFP wavelengths only came in a few standard wavelengths that were primarily configured to accommodate SX (short distance) or LX (long distance) transmissions.  Today however, this has all changed with the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth at the user level.

At one time, a backbone cabled system with a 10 gigabit capacity was considered enormous, but today with the introduction of CWDM backbones, this size is considered quite small.

If you have any questions regarding the technology in this article or would like to find out how to deploy a high tech GPON design in your next project, contact FNT experts at 1-866-818-8050 for questions, design support or pricing.

Next month, our FNT Direct Connect article will take an in-depth look at smart building technology and the devices that make it possible. We will also discuss the changing building network architecture and how a centralized network design can increase your bandwidth while saving time and money on your next installation.


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