For those technically minded there has been a debate raging over the different technologies used to reticulate Fibre to the Home. There are four major access technologies BPON, EPON (or GEPON), GPON, and Active Ethernet which are deployed around the world. You can find out more on these technologies by reading this white paper.

Most of the debate is meaningless with each vendor inventing arguements which once investigated prove to be without substance. The biggest 'myth' perpetuated is the bandwidth capacity arguement (particuarly by the Active Ethernet Vendors). I wont go into details here, because I will soon publish a white paper evaluating the different access technologies. This post provides a little background on the technologies and a video presentation on Japan's encumbant carrier (NTT) and their experience with the different technologies and why they chose EPON.

BPON (Broadband Passive Optical Network) is really a dead technology having been replaced by GPON, but still a number of carriers are deploying this technology. Here in Australia, Telstra used BPON in its early FTTH deployments in Queensland and Western Australia.

EPON (Ethernet Passive Optical Network) is defined by the IEEE in the 802.1ah specification. It is currently the predominate technology used in Australia and has the vast majority of deployments worldwide mainly because of the use in Asia. While Telstra is using GPON (through it association with Alcatel), almost every other deployment in Australia by the smaller service providers has been EPON (the only exception being TransACT).

GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network) is the latest technology which has been talked about for some time, but only commercially released in mass deployment mid last year. It is predominately deployed in the United States by the RBOCs, although Europe has seen some recent installations.

Active Ethernet is the traditional point to point ethernet technology created using enterprise grade ethernet switches with fibre optic interfaces. Traditionally used in the European market because of the high density living and short loop lengths, it once was the predominant FTTH technology in the early deployments, but has been rapidly losing ground worldwde to the two major PON technologies. The biggest issue for Active Ethernet is the high fibre count and the costs associated with the installation of the outside plant. It also does not scale on broadacre deployment such as what we have in Australia.


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