Nokia, Proximus claim first with 25G fiber network

Belgian operator Proximus claimed to have achieved a world-first in collaboration with Nokia, lighting up a symmetrical 25G passive optical network (PON) in the city of Antwerp.

During an event announcing the launch, Promixus CTO Geert Standaert said the “highest speed the world has ever seen on a fiber broadband network is now here, activated on a live network…this is not PowerPoint, it is not a mock up.” Speeds reached 21 Gbps in a network demonstration conducted during the presentation.

While the network is capable of delivering 25G today using Nokia’s Quillion chipset, Nokia VP of broadband networks Geert Heyninck said there are a “few steps left” to bring the technology to the “right level of maturity.” He added it expects to achieve this in 2022.

Standaert said the first use cases to leverage 25G will be “enterprise, industry-based” but noted the operator will also be able to use its fiber infrastructure for 5G densification.

RELATED: Nokia bows world's first end-to-end 25 Gbps symmetrical PON offering

Proximus’ focus on 25G is part of its four-pronged Inspire 2022 initiative, which includes goals to build “the best gigabit network for Belgium” and take action to address climate change and the digital divide. The operator previously outlined a plan to deploy fiber to at least 70% of homes and businesses in Belgium by 2028.

Heyninck highlighted PON as a "very green technology" since it only requires active equipment in central office and end-user locations. 

Standaert was also quick to note that Proximus won’t be the only operator to benefit from its 25G-capable fiber network. “We are open at all levels. It means that this network that we build is not only to provide Proximus services…but this network is open for any other service provider out there, whether it’s a bigger service provider or smaller,” he said, adding 31 providers are already active on its network.

Nokia debuted its symmetrical 25G PON product, based on its Quillion chipset, in November 2020. Heyninck said its line cards are being deployed worldwide by more than 100 customers today.

Rather than leaping directly to 25G, though, several operators appear to be pursuing 10G capabilities as the next step forward. Altice USA recently outlined a plan to roll out 10 Gbps commercially by end-2022, with Comcast, Circle Fiber and Alaskan operator GCI all also working toward the 10G mark.