To achieve critical mass in high-volume deployments of ultra high-bandwidth broadband access equipment to customer premises, a key factor is cost. Service providers must deploy to millions of users to recover the cost of deployment of high performance access technologies such as Fiber to the Home (FTTH). To attract subscribers they must offer such high-performance services as Triple Play (integrated voice, video and data). To keep the total cost of ownership low, next generation Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) should be able to support not only today's Triple-Play services, but also be enabled for the even more advanced, yet to be unveiled "killer" applications of the future. The challenge facing the designers of the next generation CPE is to find the "sweet spot" of a low bill of materials cost today with enough bandwidth to meet the demands of tomorrow.
The requirement for low-cost deployment of very high volumes of customer premises equipment has some designers looking at enhanced versions of today's DSL or cable modem based solutions. While they offer initial low deployment costs, these solutions will rapidly run out of useful bandwidth when tackling even today's Triple Play services. A more cost-effective alternative is to deploy Passive Optical Networking (PON) technology in an FTTH access network. This solution provides both a low-cost CPE bill of materials and the ultra-high bandwidth to support Triple Play subscriber services and headroom for future services.
FTTH Is Happening Today
With traditional wireline/wireless carriers, ISPs, content owners and cable operators starting to exploit the ability of Internet Protocol (IP) to deliver simultaneous voice/video/data, convergence between the IP-based network backbone and IP networks in the broadband access network is already in play. Consumer response is overwhelming. In Japan, the first geographic market to roll out gigabit/second FTTH in the broadband access network, subscriber adoption of FTTH quickly outstripped DSL with new subscribers choosing FTTH over DSL starting in the first quarter of 2005.
As of mid-2006, new subscribers were opting for FTTH access over DSL access by ten to one. With major carriers in other geographic markets announcing plans to add tens of millions of subscribers by 2010, developers of CPE equipment must be prepared to support gigabit/second bandwidth in the access network or face almost instant obsolescence. The carriers need to deploy CPEs with performance that can last for at least 5 years or more.
Figure 1. Today's FTTH broadband network access technology delivers two orders of magnitude greater bandwidth than older access network technologies enabling cost-effective delivery of Triple Play services.