Why Accelerating FTTP Adoption Is Critical to Leveraging PON’s Potential

Accelerating FTTP Adoption

Dr. Curtis Knittle
Vice President, Wired Technologies Research and Development

Oct 25, 2023

Alongside the hustle and bustle in the cable industry to deploy DOCSIS® 4.0 technology, another 10G solution quietly plods along with pinpoint precision: fiber to the premises (FTTP). In FTTP, the premises can represent a home, business, campus, multiple-dwelling unit, etc.

Despite what fiber overbuilders might want you to believe, the cable industry has always embraced fiber-optic technologies in its access networks, beginning with the dominant media component in hybrid fiber coax (HFC) networks. For the past handful of years, the industry has also embraced passive optical network (PON) technology to deliver services over FTTP networks, especially in greenfield deployment scenarios.

CableLabs has consistently been in lockstep with our operator members when it comes to the development and deployment of wired technologies — tackling new versions of DOCSIS technology and innovating around enhancements to the HFC network. Now, CableLabs is flexing once again with an increased focus on FTTP networks and PON technologies, along with an adjustment of resources to support it.

We continue to be focused on DOCSIS 4.0 technology solutions as operators begin deployments, but now we’re also getting laser-focused on FTTP adoption. This technology lays the foundation for operators to deliver lightning-fast, symmetrical speeds and increased reliability while also reducing their own maintenance costs later on down the road.

Join Our Working Groups

This week, we’re kicking off this work in earnest with the launch of two new working groups. One will focus on optical operations and maintenance, and the other will focus on specifying a DOCSIS framework for provisioning International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-based PON technology. If your company is involved in these technologies, you should be involved. We’re getting started Thursday, October 26. To learn more or join the groups, click the button below to reach out to us.

FTTP at CableLabs

Our work toward achieving FTTP adoption extends to six pillars of activity:

Provisioning and Integration — Easily the largest scope and most important of the six pillars, provisioning and integration refers to PON technology that efficiently and seamlessly integrates with a cable operator’s existing back-office systems. Using DOCSIS-related provisioning systems to provision and manage PON technology is a great example of seamlessly integrating PON with existing cable systems. Another example: monitoring optical communication systems with tight integration with systems that monitor DOCSIS-based HFC networks.

Ecosystem Engagement — There are several large organizations that focus on standards and architectural solutions related to PON technology. The ITU and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) are two standards development organizations with a long history of PON technology standardization, and the Broadband Forum (BBF) has focused on test plans and PON architectures. The goal of this FTTP pillar is to monitor, influence and drive solutions that benefit CableLabs membership.

Strategic Guidance — Although cable operators clearly have a long and solid history with fiber-based networks, the PON technology and extending fiber to each home come with certain service nuances. Coexisting with other generations of PON, for example, may be an area where operators could use some guidance. Virtualization of PON systems is another area where strategic guidance could be helpful.

Interoperability — One of the challenges that service providers most commonly mention is the lack of interoperability in PON solutions. For PON, interoperability is the ability for an optical line terminal (OLT) from one vendor to interoperate with optical network terminals (ONTs) from a multitude of other vendors. Multi-vendor interoperability allows a service provider to avoid vendor lock-in and use devices from multiple vendors.

Future PON — Contributing to the development of next-generation PON technology is an important role for CableLabs to ensure that cable operator requirements are considered during the development. Coherent PON (CPON) technology, currently being led by CableLabs and the cable industry, is a great example of how CableLabs can provide leadership in the telecommunications industry.

Convergence — The holy grail for service providers is providing service anytime and anywhere, regardless of the last-mile technology. Wireless, DOCSIS-based HFC and PON are all last-mile options for broadband services, and all three can achieve significant cost savings and new service revenue if converged appropriately.

From FTTP Activity to FTTP Adoption

CableLabs has pivoted some of its resources to put much more focus on these six areas of FTTP activity. We’re working with our subsidiaries Kyrio and SCTE to involve the operator and vendor community every step along the way, from the technology’s development through testing and deployment. In addition to joining working groups, our­­­­ members can also access MicroLessons, training courses and other SCTE resources — all included in the CableLabs All Access program.

Participants can join our working groups anytime, but we hope you’ll get started with us from the get-go. Click the button below to join one or both of these groups and be a part of the important work to accelerate FTTP adoption.  Not part of our operator or vendor ecosystem yet? It’s never too late to join. If your company’s already a participant, create an account and you’ll be on your way to accessing all of CableLabs’ benefits.