18 October 2023 | Blog

How can FTTH operators manage PON interoperability?

Providing Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) is more important than ever. As the demand for connectivity increases, the landscape regarding technologies and vendor choices is rapidly changing. What if different hardware and software can speak the same language and provide seamless interoperability (interop) in PON networks? Here’s why interop is needed in the FTTH ecosystem and how network operators can manage their current challenges by leveraging what interop offers.

FTTH operators need to manage transitioning technologies from Point-to-Point to PON

We are at a tipping point for FTTH and Passive Optical Network (PON) technology. In this transition, understanding the shift from cable or Point-to-Point (PtP) to PON technology and the differences are crucial. PON is a shared medium, allowing multiple subscribers to use the same feeder fiber, while PtP grants the Optical Network Terminals (ONT) control and most of the features. 10G PON ONTs are expected to take over the majority of PON ONT shipments in 2024.

PON standards have been established, and the Broadband Forum TR-247 certification program paves the way for integration and interop, though it does not guarantee working interop. Beneath the surface are vendor-specific managed entities, different OLT software versions, network configurations, vendor lock-in tactics, and white-box and virtual OLTs entering the playing field. All of these issues make integration challenging to implement. In PON, interop between the Optical Line Terminal (OLT) and ONT is key.

Take advantage of expanding OLT vendor choices and avoid vendor lock-in when deploying PON

The OLT landscape is experiencing a growing number of vendors offering different methods of deploying OLTs. This ranges from pluggable OLTs and virtual OLTs to traditional DOCSIS cable vendors. FTTH operators, new and established, need to consider their choice of OLT and ONT vendors carefully. More choices also impact OLT and ONT interop.

A recent whitepaper from OMDIA recommends that fiber operators benefit from independent ONT vendors whose ONTs can seamlessly work with OLTs from various suppliers. This approach gives operators freedom from vendor lock-in and maximum flexibility. It is also a resilient way to manage disruptions in the supply chain or the consolidation of operators.

With more choices, operators must decipher various OLT languages and their dialects to ensure interop

With more options, there are more decisions to be made. How do operators select the ONT brand and firmware version to connect with the different OLTs in the field in the most cost-effective way? Most would choose the same ONT and OLT brand in the short term. But suppose operators want the flexibility to switch OLTs, expand their network to an area with another OLT, add a second source OLT vendor, or work with other market players. In that case, there are more viable options.

Imagine answering these challenges with one single firmware in the ONT. OLT-ONT communication follows standards, but in reality, each OLT speaks a different dialect. To ensure complete communication, understanding these dialects is essential.

Genexis offers a solution with its TrueTalk software, which automatically detects the OLT and adapts it accordingly. This OLT agnostic solution is embedded in all Genexis PON products, including the widely deployed FiberTwist. TrueTalk supports mixed OLTs and ONTs and tackles operators’ interop issues.

As FTTH technology advances, network operators must prioritize interop, diversify OLT and ONT vendors, and make it easier to install FTTH.

Learn more about TrueTalk.

Author: Mr. Martijn Rooijakkers