XGS-PON plugfest paves the way for 10 Gbps fiber capability for AT&T, CenturyLink

fiber install
A range of operators are looking to upgrade their fiber systems. (CenturyLink)

A collection of testing groups and trade associations announced a second XGS-PON “Interoperability Plugfest,” a meeting that helps further pave the way for AT&T, CenturyLink and other telcos to deploy the technology into their fiber networks. The action is noteworthy since XGS-PON promises to allow providers to deploy 10 Gbps speeds over a fiber line while concurrently supporting legacy 2.5 Gbps G-PON services.

The plugfest, organized by Laboratoire des Applications Numériques (LAN), the Full Service Access Network (FSAN) Group and the Broadband Forum, boasted participation from vendors including Adtran, Broadcom, Calix, CommScope, Econet, Huawei, Intel, MT2, Nokia, Sagemcom, TiBit Communications and ZTE. Plugfests are often a key element in the development of new telecommunications technologies as they ensure that products from rival vendors can interoperate.

"Efficient interoperability testing and its next step ONU certification process is essential to Orange before envisioning any significant deployment of a technology generation," said Christian Gacon, director of wireline network and infrastructure at Orange Labs, in a release about the plugfest. "XG(S)-PON test events prove the basic standards sanity check and enable the next step consisting in common technical specifications amongst major operators worldwide to focus the industry towards a bulk first market for the technology."

The plugfest is particularly important to AT&T and CenturyLink, which have both voiced support for the ITU’s XGS-PON standard. AT&T promised this year to test XGS-PON in Atlanta and Dallas to 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

“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,” Eddy Barker, assistant vice president of access architecture and design for AT&T, told FierceTelecom in June. “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.”

That position though stands at odds to Verizon’s next-generation fiber plans; the operator has said it will likely leverage the NG-PON2 infrastructure for its future fiber efforts. Vincent O’Byrne, director of access for Verizon, said in August that XGS-PON and 10G-PON (another possible next-gen FTTP path) lack the future-proof capabilities of NG-PON2.

Indeed, it’s exactly that plethora of choice that’s driving recent plugfest efforts. "The industry is very much working together to ensure that when it comes to deploying PON technologies, operators have a wide choice of interoperable solutions and can deploy the technology cost-effectively,” Thierry Doligez, Director of LAN, said in a release announcing this latest XGS-PON plugfest.