FTTx: Current Status and the Future



By the end of 2007, there were 29 million subscribers to services supplied by FTTx equipment, and by 2012, it is expected the number will grow to over 100 million subscribers. In this paper, we review the current status of FTTx and analyze what is taking place in different regions of the world. We view the future for FTTx in
terms of growth and the types of FTTx products we might see.

Dinesh Chand Sanwal

S/o Bhuwan Chand Sanwal


The key drivers for deploying fiber to the x (FTTx) infrastructures are advanced multimedia services (including Internet Protocol television [IPTV], high definition television [HDTV], and video on demand [VoD]); ultra-high-bit-rate Internet access (50–100 Mb/s); and corporate broadband applications such as videoconferencing; hosted voice-over-IP (VoIP); and IP virtual private networks (VPNs). Video services, in particular, justify the need for the ultra-high bit rates. For some passive optical network (PON) deployments, video is driving investment into radio frequency (RF) video for the near term and increased bandwidth on the data channels to support IP video in the longer term. Telecommunication companies (telcos) and cable providers appear to have settled on 100 Mb/s to the consumer as the current target, with higher rates to businesses (1 Gb/s).


images-1For those densely populated regions of the world where subscribers in high-rise multidwelling units (MDUs) might do a significant amount of resource sharing, traffic within one building can be handled by an Ethernet switch or a remote digital subscriber line access multiplexer (DSLAM) in the basement. In this case, a dedicated single fiber link back to the central office makes a lot of sense.





1At the end of 2007, there were nearly 29 million subscribers connected with FTTx infrastructure worldwide. Most of the subscribers are receiving service via fiber to the home (FTTH) or fiber to the building (FTTB). Together, the two terms commonly are called fiber to the premise (FTTP). Figure 1 illustrates the global growth of FTTx for the years 2005–2012. The growth is expected to continue at a very fast pace with the number of FTTx subscribers expected to grow to over 100 million by the end of 2012. Today FTTx  broadband comprises 7.5 percent of all broadband users and is expected to comprise 16 percent of all broadband users by 2012.

2There are two fundamental FTTx architectures deployed in today’s access networks: point to multipoint, which is commonly referred to as a PON and point to point (P2P, referred to as active Ethernet). PONs have a single fiber that runs from the central office to deep in the network and usually terminates at a splitter cabinet. Although the splitter cabinet typically contains a 1×32 splitter, split ratios of 1×16 and 1×8 sometimes are used. New standards are calling for even larger split ratios of 1×64 and 1×128. For a future potential upgrade to wavelength division multiplexing (WDM)-PON, an arrayed waveguide (AWG, for wavelength multiplexing and demultiplexing) can be colocated. From the splitter cabinet, short runs of fiber connect each of the homes. With the point-to-point (P2P) architecture, a single fiber runs all the way from the central office to the home. Both architectures are deployed, with P2P currently outpacing the PON installations as can be seen in Fig. 2. The figure also shows that by 2012, PON will catch up to P2P; and it is expected that P2P will start to decline, and PON will continue to grow and will dominate.

For those densely populated regions of the world, MDUs can take advantage of resource sharing through traffic aggregation with a centralized Ethernet switch or DSLAM in each building. In this case, a dedicated single fiber link back to the central office makes a lot of sense. China-India and Asia-Pacific are currently the leading regions for P2P access due to their numerous densely populated areas. We expect Western Europe to catch up and surpass Asia-Pacific in the future.

3The PON market worldwide is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 percent between 2005 and 2012. North America will be more aggressive in its deployment of PONs over the forecast period, whereas Asia-Pacific PON deployments will remain relatively steady. The fastest-growing regions for PON sales are forecasted to be Western Europe and North America. Starting in 2007, the migration from broadband passive optical network (BPON) to GPON in North America began as the pricing of GPON became more attractive. Asia-Pacific and China-India will continue to favor Ethernet passive optical network (EPON), although GPON will make its presence known in the later years of the forecast. The forecast for PON equipment sales by PON type is shown in Fig. 3.

Those in the telecommunications industry generally agree that fiber all the way to the home or premises (usually abbreviated FTTH) is the ultimate broadband architecture for fixed access networks. The Fiber-to-the-Home Council is promoting the deployment of FTTH worldwide by tracking the increasing subscriber numbers on FTTH and its increasing market share of all broadband.

4Figure 4 shows the latest figures from the FTTH Council [4], released at the FTTH Council meeting in Paris in February 2008. To continue a tradition started at the Asia-Pacific FTTH Council meeting held in Beijing, China in July 2007, the three FTTH councils — North America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe — performed a joint study to determine worldwide ranking of countries or economies that have FTTH subscribers. They then rank the countries that have greater than 1 percent FTTH penetration based upon the number of households in each country. In July 2007, eleven countries or economies had greater than 1 percent FTTH penetration. In the six months since then, the number of countries having a greater than 1 percent penetration rate increased to 14.

[1] The Book on FTTx, ADC Telecommunications, 2005.
[2] “GPON vs. EPON: The Battle Lines are Drawn”; http://
http://www.fibers.org, Dec. 19, 2005.
[3] S. McClelland, “The FTTH Cost Challenge,” Telecommun.
Online, May 31, 2007.
[4] Euro. FTTH Council Conf., Paris, France, Feb. 27–28, 2008.
[5] C.-H. Lee et al., “WDM-PON Experiences in Korea,” J.
Opt. Networking, May 2007.
[6] Novera Optics Web site; see whitepapers.
[7] X. Wang et al., “Demonstration of Over 128-Gb/s-
Capacity (12-User x 10.71-Gb/s/User) Asynchronous
OCDMA Using FEC and AWG-Based Multiport Optical
Encoder/Decoders,” IEEE Photonics Tech. Lett., Aug. 1,
[8] D. Parsons, “GPON — Reversing the Power Bandwidth
Trend: In Other Words, Saving the Environment,” IEEE
GLOBECOM ’07, Washington, DC, Nov. 28–30, 2007.


Dinesh Chand Sanwal

S/O Bhuwan Chand Sanwal


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