AT&T says XGS-PON offers near-term economic value, sets software path for last mile network

two utility workers setting up a fiber cabinet on a sidewalk
A benefit for AT&T in using XGS-PON today is that it is part of the software elements for its last-mile network.

AT&T said that while it sees potential in all next-gen PON architectures, including NG-PON2, the service provider XGS-PON offers the best value for its investment dollar.

Later this year, the service provider will begin two XGS-PON trials in Atlanta and Dallas.

During those trials, AT&T will focus on how to provide multigigabit internet speeds to consumers and businesses.

RELATED: AT&T to hold 10G XGS-PON field trial, sets pace to virtualize last mile network

Eddy Barker, assistant vice president of access architecture and design for AT&T, told FierceTelecom that the decision comes down to economics.

“Why we like XGS is because it uses some of the same optics that have been used for 10G PON so we have a greater volume in the industry,” Barker said. “That means that those prices for those optics, which is the biggest cost of PON outside of the cost of labor to put in the fiber, is the reason why we’re saying it’s as economical as what we’re deploying today with GPON.”

But AT&T is certainly keeping its eye on the potential benefits of using NG-PON2, a technology that’s been championed by Verizon for business and backhaul services.

“Ultimately, if we do want to offer a next step to businesses we can migrate to NG-PON2,” Barker said. “I think we’re going to have a number of years before where tunable optics for NG-PON2 become economical and reliable to deploy in comparison of where we are with XGS-PON today.”

An additional benefit for AT&T in using XGS-PON today is that it is part of the software elements for its last-mile network.

AT&T worked with ON.Lab to develop and test ONOS (Open Network Operating System) and VOLTHA (Virtual Optical Line Terminator Hardware Abstraction) software.

Barker said that by having software enable more elements of its last-mile network, it will be able to provide benefits to other services platforms, including G.fast and even wireless services.

When AT&T begins the XGS-PON trials, which it plans to conduct in Dallas and Atlanta, later this year the focus will be on a multiservice access vision.

This vision will be able to not only fulfill business and consumer needs, but also infrastructure such as wireless backhaul and supporting G.fast.

“The system we’re working on with ON.Labs will work with G.fast, some aspects of mobility services so we’re trying to substantiate a lot of that software micro services where they can be reutilized,” Barker said. “That’s a big part of the effort.”