Operators plan big 10G PON deployments in next two years

Nov. 22, 2021
A recent survey conducted by Broadband Technology Report, the Fiber Broadband Association, and BTR sister site Lightwave reveals that 84% of service provider respondents in the Americas plan fiber-based 10G technology deployments over the next two years.

A recent survey conducted by Broadband Technology Report, the Fiber Broadband Association, and BTR sister site Lightwave reveals that 84% of service provider respondents in the Americas plan fiber-based 10G technology deployments over the next two years. The overwhelming majority of those deployments will use some form of 10G PON technology, the survey indicates.

The survey, conducted early this summer, also elicited comments on the drivers for 10G fiber broadband roll outs, the criteria used to select technology vendors, and how much respondents plan to spend.

Rural or urban, 10G fiber broadband is coming

Select members of the Fiber Broadband Association and the audiences of BTR and Lightwave received the survey. More than 300 people responded, including 128 people employed at communications services providers in North America and Latin America. Slightly more than 75% of these respondents work for companies that serve fewer than 100,000 subscribers. Yet only 40% of the total respondents say that more than half of their customers live in rural areas.

Interest in 10G fiber broadband is high among all demographics – 68.5% of respondents revealed they already have some form of fiber-based 10G technology in their networks. This interest derives from several sources. Overall, 79% of respondents cited the desire to increase the service speeds they can offer as a reason for their 10G technology interest, followed most closely by an interest in using the capability for competitive differentiation the next most frequently cited driver, at 55%. Other drivers cited include:

  • The ability to serve new customer segments (47%)
  • The chance to roll out new services (40%)
  • The ability to serve more subscribers per port (32%)
  • A desire to support 5G mobile services (31%).

Those desires will lead to significant 10G fiber broadband technology deployments over the next two years, as previously cited. The 84% figure comprises 30% who plan to begin roll outs for the first time, 36% who plan to add to existing deployments, and 18% who expect to complete existing initiatives. Only 13% indicated they have no plans to deploy 10G optical access systems; 3% of respondents said they didn’t know their company’s plans.

Respondents who work for companies with 10G plans with which they are familiar expressed a strong preference for XGS-PON technology. Among those who revealed their preference, 54% selected XGS-PON, compared to 25% for Active Ethernet or some other form of point-to-point infrastructure, 16% for 10G-EPON, and 5% for NG-PON2.

Such deployments will cost money, of course. Of those with 10G deployment plans with knowledge of their companies’ budgets, 27% said they’ll spend $100,000 or less on their 10G roll out, while 35% estimated they’ll spend between $100,000 and $1 million and 38% said they’ll spend more than $1 million. A healthy percentage, 16%, said they expect to spend more than $5 million.

10G fiber broadband for rural subscribers

With rural subscribers an important target for government funding, respondents with at least 50% of their customers in this category present an intriguing demographic within the survey. Interestingly, 63% said they have some form of 10G in their networks, better than the average of all respondents. However, 59% of such survey participants said that less than 10% of their networks currently are 10G enabled, leaving significant room for additional deployments; only 22% reported that more than half of their networks support 10G.

The rural operators in our survey also plan to build on their current 10G base, with 78% reporting that they plan to roll out 10G technology over the next two years. The deployment drivers for these deployments roughly follow those described above for survey respondents as a whole. Just short of 40% of those with deployment plans said they expect to spend at least $1 million on 10G technology expansion.

How operators will select 10G technology suppliers

Not surprisingly, our survey respondents said that performance (79%) and reliability (74%) topped the list of criteria when evaluating 10G fiber broadband technology options. Past history with a supplier (67%) and company reputation (61%) also proved important factors.

Among operators with large rural subscriber bases, past history with a supplier was overwhelmingly the most important criterion, cited by 82% of respondents. Equipment reliability (74%) and performance (72%) followed, in reverse order of their citations among survey respondents overall. Conversely, the ability to help with funding or navigating government grant programs isn’t much of a selling point among operators, including rural ones. Only 12% of primarily rural-serving respondents cited help with funding as important and only 14% named the ability to help with government funding proposals.

10G fiber broadband technology to remain a strong market

The survey results clearly show widespread interest in 10G fiber broadband technology, an interest that will last over the next two years at least. Rural operators appear to be early adopters, although there is plenty of room in their networks for more systems. These systems likely will support XGS-PON technology, although Active Ethernet and other point-to-point approaches will generate strong interest as well.

Operators whose subscriber base is at least 50% rural value past history with a supplier as the most important criterion when making a technology buying decision, which indicates fiber broadband equipment suppliers should be hopeful of future business from such companies on their client list – provided that they treat them well.

Stephen Hardy is editorial director of Broadband Technology Report.