Last week the ITU working group developing the XGS-PON standard (ITU-T Q2/15) approved the document to be forwarded for consent. What exactly does that mean? The XGS-PON standardization effort that kicked off last summer has moved to the next step toward standardization with final comments being solicited. Once all comments have been resolved, XGS-PON will be an official new broadband standard.

The effort lead by ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent, BT, China Telecom, Huawei, and Orange will see next generation 10Gbps broadband technologies double the useable life span of a fiber network regardless of how fast the market's broadband traffic usage grows. 10Gbps capable broadband allows network operators to get more out of their considerable fiber network investment as multiple premium 10Gbps services can be supported on the same fiber originally constructed to support only residential broadband or business IP and Ethernet services. This fact alone justifies an operator's decision to invest in new 10 Gigabit technologies, but like any new technology, the adoption curve is pulled down due to the high initial cost of the new components. Remember those ten thousand dollar flat screen TVs?

NG-PON2 with its multiple wavelength capability allows for multiple, in fact up to 10 individual 10Gbps, point to point services and another 40Gbps worth of shared or passive optical network (PON) based services. This is great news for those looking at offering premium business and mobile services. However, the highly tunable Time and Wavelength Division Multiplexing (TWDM) optics used for NG-PON2 are quite expensive versus those optical components used by today’s well established PON technologies. How expensive? Ten or more times as expensive.

This is where XGS-PON comes in. This latest 10Gbps broadband standard bridges the gap between today’s FTTH technologies and NG-PON2. XGS-PON targets network operators who have found other PON upgrade paths too costly and/or insufficient to meet the needs of business customers, who typically demand symmetrical service.

ADTRAN first highlighted this cost issue in 2015 and announced the ability to streamline the high cost design areas of NG-PON2 broadband by developing a flexible optics approach. Complementary to NG-PON2, this led to the emergence of a new 10Gbps technology – XGS-PON. This innovation is accelerating the adoption of 10Gbps technology by allowing the solution to have the capability to both support the reliability and flexibility needed for premium business and backhaul services while also delivering on the price points and scale needed for mass market residential applications.

So what happens next? The XGS-PON recommendation is expected to get final approval in second half of 2016. XGS-PON field trials are also expected to commence this year with wide commercial deployments taking place in 2017.

Kurt Raaflaub leads ADTRAN’s strategic solutions marketing, and has more than 20 years of experience in telecom.