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World’s First as Vodafone and Nokia Trial 100Gbps Broadband

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021 (9:21 am) - Score 6,240
nokia_vodafone_100Gbps_PON_test

At present some of the fastest consumer available and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISPs in the world can offer speeds of up to 10-20Gbps (Gigabits per second), but a new trial by Vodafone and Nokia’s Bell Labs division has just provided a glimpse into the future by achieving speeds of 100Gbps on a single PON wavelength.

The new Passive Optical Network (PON) technology was officially put to the test at Vodafone’s Eschborn lab in Germany last week, where Nokia Bell Labs deployed the very latest Digital Signal Processing (DSP) techniques alongside cost-effective 25G optics (the latter is already widely available today) in order to deliver the new speed via a single PON wavelength (i.e. no bonding or combination of multiple wavelengths each carrying lower speeds).

NOTE: ONU/ONTs convert optical signals transmitted via fibre to electrical signals, which can connect to your router. If you have FTTP then one of these will often be installed on your inside wall.

The 100G-PON prototype is also said to be the “world’s first application of flexible rate transmission” in a PON network, which works by grouping fibre modems – Optical Network Units (ONU) or Optical Network Terminals (ONT) if you prefer – that exhibit similar physical network characteristics (e.g. loss or dispersion) and makes data transmission more efficient (e.g. lower latency and power consumption).

We should be clear that it’s already possible to achieve much faster speeds than 100Gbps via optical fibre based leased lines, backhaul and international links, but bringing this to the local access side for consumers and small businesses is a different kettle of fish (affordability is a key consideration).

Gavin Young, Vodafone’s Head of Fixed Access Centre of Excellence, said:

“100G PON has 40 times the capacity of today’s GPON networks, and 10 times the capacity of XGS-GPON, so it will help us keep ahead of the demand curve. In addition to ultra-high speeds, the technology supports our vision of highly efficient and adaptable next-generation networks. 100G PON enables flexible rates, and works by grouping modems using a technique similar to the one we already use in our cable networks, so this experience can help us to better evaluate and exploit this new PON technology.”

Stefaan Vanhastel, CTO of Nokia’s Fixed Networks Division, said:

“We keep pushing the potential of fibre access so that capacity stays ahead of the unrelenting demand of the connected world. In 2020, we launched the first commercial 25G PON solution. Now, we’re delighted to show state-of-the-art 100G technology together with Vodafone. These breakthroughs in speed turn an existing fibre-to-the-home network into a fibre network that can connect homes, businesses, remote cable nodes and 5G small cells.”

Nokia suggests that the new technology is likely to become commercially available in the second half of the decade and Vodafone similarly perceives it as powering the next generation of broadband networks from 2030 (you have to allow a few years for deployment and replacement of “older” hardware etc.), although it remains to be seen how that pans out.

At present many of the new FTTP broadband networks being deployed in the UK are using kit that should be able to handle peak download speeds of up to 10Gbps in the future, although most packages currently only go up to 1Gbps. We use the word “only” very lightly, since fully harnessing even 1Gbps of speed today is difficult (e.g. slow internet servers, poor home WiFi, network congestion etc.) and only 37%+ of the UK can even order it (here).

But Nokia and Vodafone’s announcement isn’t about today’s technology, they’re more concerned with showing what the domestic fibre optic networks of the future will be able to do. Granted 100Gbps may seem like a long way off in the UK, but it wasn’t so long ago that the only way you could get online in this country was via a 56Kbps dialup modem. The dial of progress is forever moving forward.

Finally, the topology used in this trial is similar to typical FTTP deployments – 15km and 20km distance over power split network.

Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    @MarkJ
    “but *brining* [sic] this to the local access side for consumers and small businesses is a different kettle of fish” – presumably salt fish. 😉

  2. Avatar Sam says:

    Ahhh but can it handle zoom and Netflix at the same time…

    1. Avatar Spurple says:

      Fix your router if you’re having this problem.

      Google “how to fix bufferbloat” with your router model.

  3. Avatar Tom says:

    Fastest FTTP I’ve ever seen is https://www.kcfiber.com/residential

    (They don’t use PON, just fiber direct from cab to house) see https://mailman.nanog.org/pipermail/nanog/2020-December/210983.html 😛

  4. Avatar Graham says:

    Great, but when the best speed in some areas is no more than 10/15mbps, surely the goal is to get everyone up to a reasonable speed.

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