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Third-Party OLT devices and modules

mcglynnj

Casual Member
Bit of a specialty-scenario question here, but here goes...

Has anyone ever got a GPON/OLT device besides the ISP-provided unit to successfully work their internet connection?

Let me explain my personal situation:

I live in a new build area of Luton that is xDSL-only, as far as I know we don't get any modern full-fibre service (FTTP, Virgin Media etc.) whatsoever at the time of writing.

I know for a fact that my current copper line will have to go before the final switch-off for the old xDSL system in the coming years.

The way I understand it is that some installations use separate wall-mounted GPON-OLT boxes to convert the incoming connection to a standard gigabit-ethernet for connection the the main router's WAN port. And I know that, in some cases, these devices do not handle authentication and deferred that to the router connected to it via PPPoE instead.

My router-of-choice is the Ubiquiti Unifi Dream Machine Pro (UDM-PRO). What I would like to do, when my area's turn comes around for the switchover, is to have the incoming connection go straight into this unit with the use of an SFP module that plugs into its SFP-WAN port, and have the optical cable go straight into that, without the use of a physically-separated converter box.
 

Meatball

Pro Member
Do you not mean ONT or ONU?. The OLT is at the network providers end. For security and compatibility the ONT will be supplied and owned by the network provider.

FTTP networks vary in technology although OR and main Altnets are utilising GPON for their wider rollouts. As faster GPON generations are utilised then ONTs will be introduced to offer products above 1 Gig. Whether the higher WAN speeds are provided by Cat 7 or Optical or Direct Attached is yet to be seen. Consumer generally follows commercial but simpler compatibility and lower cost is the driver.

Currently most provide a separate ONT with one or more Gig Ethernet WAN ports. Some smaller network providers that are also the ISP may choose to provide a combined ONT and Router.

Your issue will be that you probably don't know what provider will be providing FTTP in your area, the chosen topology/technology, its generation and the ONT they have selected for the product.

You would have to go for business connections to get kit that uses SFP modules. Are you really considering 2+ Gig speeds?
 

mcglynnj

Casual Member
Sorry, yes, ONT, not OLT; I'm always getting these acronyms mixed up.

I'm not aiming for multi-gig speeds, I'm simply trying to do forward-planning as well as future-proofing. I'm trying to get a head start on understanding what might be the most common/likely setup and what my options might be in terms of installation flexibility.

But, yes, I don't know, and I thought by asking, I might have some knowledge to go by for when the time comes round as to what I should be bearing in mind.

I appreciate your expertise.

Just to give an idea of my technical-competency, I have successfully managed to get my router-of-choice working with my ISP's-supplied router (Zen Internet) running in PPPoE-passthrough mode; it does acquire a non-private IP address.
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
You'll find that a lot of ISPs ship ONTs as matched with the wider network's OLT brand (supplier) choices / capabilities and usually lock them to their own network. So you can't just slot a different ONT in and indeed it may not be supported in the operators terms if you do.

Now if you're comfortable hacking your way around telnet/SSH in the ONT then you might be able to use a different device, provided it's similar enough to what the network operator expects, but this is more for advanced users. But right now there's not a lot of point in messing around with the ONT.
 

Meatball

Pro Member
As MJ says you cannot just plug in your own ONT. The ONT has to be compatible with the host network.

Think of FTTP like you do DSL but with a separate Modem and Router. In this case the ONT is an optical modem. It is more likely you will be on GPON for FTTP so the ONT in this case runs at the bearer speed listening for it's own packets. The network provider will control things like security, speed and priorities. Only ONTs registered on the OLT will work and rouges should be detected.

The ISP will provide a Router with a WAN input (no modem required) and the login details which may be PPPoE or other. As I said some provider/ISPs may provide a combined unit. Going forward freedom to use your own router may be restricted particularly on the larger ISPs where they are restricting access to an increasing number of router settings.

Therefore you will need to go for an ISP that will explicitly support the use of an alternative router.

All you need to do is plan where you want the FTTP feed to come in, whether you will co-locate the ONT with the Router, suitable number of power sockets, UPS, how you will provide LAN/WIFI etc.

A good quality Cat 6 Ethernet cable will be fine between ONT and your Router.
 

ipuk

Member
I have just taken on FTTP with BT and use a UDM-Pro. Openreach installed a very small ONT that just provided a Ethernet port to the Ethernet WAN port on the device. Then configured PPPoeE and all works well. The ONT is extremely small.
 

TTJJ

ULTIMATE Member
You can buy HUAWEI generic GPON/EPON units.

I havent used one in the UK but it was very simple. I just needed an LOID to authenticate it from the provider.

They’re just the same as what Openreach use and can easily deliver the full gigabit speeds.
 

mcglynnj

Casual Member
You can buy HUAWEI generic GPON/EPON units.

I havent used one in the UK but it was very simple. I just needed an LOID to authenticate it from the provider.

They’re just the same as what Openreach use and can easily deliver the full gigabit speeds.
Ok, so your saying it is somewhat feasible, so long as the module is known and authorised via its unique ID for the other side to not see it as rogue?

I've never heard of the acronym LOID, I suppose that is like... another form of a MAC address but different in a manner?

For everyone else, I noticed that I never mentioned my ISP when @Meatball said "larger ISPs". I'm with Zen Internet, and from what I know, they don't come under this umbrella (something like less than 1M subscribers).
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
I know a couple of people who have replace their ONT with a similar unit from the same manufacture, but as I said earlier you'd still need to be comfortable with replicating the internal settings between one unit and the other (SSH/Telnet).
 

TTJJ

ULTIMATE Member
Ok, so your saying it is somewhat feasible, so long as the module is known and authorised via its unique ID for the other side to not see it as rogue?

I've never heard of the acronym LOID, I suppose that is like... another form of a MAC address but different in a manner?

For everyone else, I noticed that I never mentioned my ISP when @Meatball said "larger ISPs". I'm with Zen Internet, and from what I know, they don't come under this umbrella (something like less than 1M subscribers).
I think the unit I was using was an EPON one and there was no MAC authentication with my ISP (I think this is the most common method) but instead they used LOID - in the unit itself you only need to configure the authentication of the connection to the gateway and then the router will handle the PPPoE connection and associated password.

The LOID was an 8 digit password/code I don’t know if it was specific to my connection or the ISP. They gave it to me happily but the configuration is generally visible within the operator menus of the operator supplied units.
 

Meatball

Pro Member
Technically yes either by auto or via registration. However the issue with GPON as apposed to EPON etc is security. I personally would take a dim view of any network provider that allowed the connection of a customer owned and specified ONT. A rogue ONT with the appropriate circuitry could capture all down traffic from the OLT card.

In addition is compatibility as different providers use now and going forward GPON, XGPON and XGSPON (both). Terms vary between manufacturers. Example, if Cityfibre run a 4 fibre cable to a OR Pole and install a 30:1 splitter they can feed all the houses served from the OH pole (+ intermediary poles) on one lit fibre. Depending on their market share (OR and VM may be present) and the demand for their 900Mbps products they may choose to light another fibre from the aggregation point installing another splitter on the pole and distribute customers accordingly between them. Both the generation of the ONT and the OLT card may differ, both require to be updated periodically and the network provider would want to remain in control.
So the concept of a customer buying and installing their own ONT wouldn't in my view be wise, the network provider will have considerable more purchasing power than a consumer and it would create engineering issues.

I may be proven wrong in the UK just in way we moved away from the separate OR DSL modems. But that was on an Exclusive Exchange Line not a shared fibre. For consumer based services in the UK it should be assumed that the ONT (or equivalent) will remain the property of the network provider and the customer facing network port will be the clear demarcation point.

For info:

CityFibre Guidance - "Customer demarcation - Ethernet port on the supplied Optical Network Terminal (ONT)"

Openreach T&Cs - "Communications Provider agrees to connect equipment to the Service only by using the ONT (where applicable) provided by BT with the Service"

Community Fibre T&Cs - "You agree not to do anything, or allow anything to be done, at your premises that may cause damage to or interfere with the Equipment or prevent use or easy access to it including replacing the Equipment with your equipment not provided by us."

B4RN T&Cs - ".... all equipment that is required to provide the broadband signal to your computer network or router will remain the ownership of B4RN ... You must not remove any of B4RN's equipment and you should take reasonable care of the equipment at your property ....."
 
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