Many industry analysts believe that the increasing requirements for bandwidth scalability, quality of service, and support of the emerging traffic patterns required by video and broadcast standards will make copper networks insufficient for many high-bandwidth services in the future. Fiber availability is not universal, and the economics of new fiber deployments are often challenging; nevertheless, fiber will undoubtedly push deeper into access networks to support business services, mobile backhaul/fronthaul, multitenant buildings/fiber to the cabinet, and in some cases fiber to the home (FTTH), too. Yet today‘s fiber-based approaches, including TDM-PON/PLC Splitter and active point-to-point Ethernet, probably won’t meet the likely requirements of the next generation of bandwidth-intensive traffic, either.
WDM-PON is a passive optical networking approach — currently being developed by several companies — that can be used to more adequately address these challenges over fiber-based networks. A WDM-PON design can be used to separate optical-network units (ONUs) into several virtual point-to-point connections over the same physical infrastructure, a feature that enables efficient use of fiber compared to point-to-point Ethernet and offers lower latency than TDM-based approaches. A notable advantage of this approach is the combination of high capacity per user, high security, and longer optical reach. WDM-PON therefore is highly suitable for applications such as mobile backhaul or business Ethernet service provision.
Thus WDM-PON is poised to become the disruptive next generation access architecture. It will enable high-speed access for businesses, mobile backhaul, and eventually FTTH. WDM-PON also will enable operators to build converged networks and consolidate existing access networks, including potentially eliminating central offices to reduce cost while boosting performance.
There are several types of WDM-PON systems under development. They all have in common the use of passive, temperature-hardened DWDM optical filters in the remote node and colorless ONUs.
FIGURE 1. Basic WDM-PON architecture.
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