CableLabs’ Optical Center of Excellence Expands to Support PON

Passive Optical Network (PON)

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

Jan 10, 2024

Key Points

  • The optical lab’s capabilities range from innovation to prototyping and testing.
  • Operators can use the lab to explore the benefits of 10G PON, 25G PON and 50G PON.
  • It also offers them a space to learn how to integrate PON technologies into their networks.

Optical communication — transmitting light waves through fiber optic cables — continues to be the foundation for providing high-speed broadband services to consumers. Whether the network solution is 100 percent fiber to the home or fiber is just an overwhelming majority, you’ll find fiber optics at the root of the solution. To acknowledge the foundational prominence of fiber optics in our industry, CableLabs is expanding the capabilities of our Optical Center of Excellence (OCE) to include state-of-the-art passive optical networking (PON) equipment.

How Our Optical Lab Helps Move the Industry Forward

Technology labs are an important part of any company whose role is to innovate and develop new solutions. The value of a technology lab can be significant and multifaceted, impacting various aspects of innovation, research, development and practical application. Particularly at CableLabs, the OCE provides important capabilities for the broadband industry.

Innovation. The OCE serves as the hub of optical innovation at CableLabs, allowing for experimentation, analysis and simply exploring new opportunities. Over the past several years the OCE has been used to explore and demonstrate the use of coherent optics in network access, wavelength switching, quantum key distribution and the use of fiber to sense environmental events, to name a few applications.

Development. Equipment in the OCE allows optical researchers to dive into the details of an innovation that shows promise as a potential solution in the network. Looking for ways to cost-reduce a solution is an important step in developing an idea into a product that can be deployed in a real network.

Validation. At CableLabs, we commit a lot of time to developing specifications for future technologies and solutions. Part of specification development involves validating certain assumptions, such as receiver sensitivities, link budget, modulation schemes, distances and many other aspects of an optical solution. The OCE contains the equipment to perform these validations.

Prototyping and testing. An important part of any R&D organization is to prototype solutions and test operation. In the case of PON, the OCE not only provides a testbed for a prototype of coherent PON, but it also provides an environment for testing interoperability of network devices built to legacy PON technologies.

Future-Proofing Passive Optical Networking Technologies

As broadband operators plan the evolution of their network beyond 10G, the OCE at CableLabs will provide a workspace in which the capabilities of next-generation FTTP technologies and standards can be tested. The OCE at CableLabs will enable operators to understand how 10G PON, 25G PON and 50G PON will enhance the user experience in their network.

The OCE will also be an environment in which to learn how these technologies can be integrated into operators’ networks. As next-generation PON takes shape, CableLabs will be prepared to usher in future PON technologies as solutions for service providers.