AT&T said it will field test 10 gigabit per second symmetrical passive optical network (XGS-PON) technology later this year. XGS-PON is expected to deliver up to 10 Gbps on both the uplink and the downlink. AT&T wants to use the high speed fiber networks to support both wireline and wireless services.
“The goal is to support the merging of all services on a single network, including 5G wireless infrastructure,” AT&T said in a press release. The carrier said its new XGS-PON infrasructure will be as cost-effective as existing gigabit PON (G-PON) networks.
Passive optical networks use fiber optic cables to connect an optical line terminal to dozens of endpoints. The optical line terminal converts electrical signals into optical signals, and splitters are used to distribute those signals to the endpoints. Because the splitters do not require any power, the network is called a passive network.
As fiber replaces copper cable in more buildings, passive optical networks are setting the stage for the internet of the things. Systems that use one signal source to connect many devices are ideal for IoT use cases.
AT&T said it plans to virtualize access functions within the last mile network. The carrier wants to deploy XGS-PON in the cloud and marry it with “open hardware and software designs.” The company said cloud-based XGS-PON will speed innovation as well as the delivery of services to customers.
AT&T submitted several open “white box” optical line terminal XGS designs to the Open Compute Project (OCP) and is working to gain approval for those designs. The carrier also worked with ON.Lab to develop and test ONOS (Open Network Operating System) and VOLTHA (Virtual Optical Line Terminator Hardware Abstraction) software.
“Software-defined networks and XGS-PON are a natural step along the evolutionary path of PON technology,” said Eddy Barker, assistant VP, access architecture and design at AT&T. “This is another way we’re enhancing our network and staying ahead of changing consumer and business needs.”