BT trials XG-PON broadband service
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Point Topic: Europe half-way to 'digital heaven'
One of the European Union’s most ambitious targets is to make sure that all its citizens can get access to superfast broadband at home, if they choose, by 2020. A new study by Point Topic shows that Europe is now half-way towards achieving that aim.The study has been produced for DG Connect, the department of the European Commission responsible for its “Digital Agenda” strategy. The purpose of the Digital Agenda is to harness the Internet and other digital technologies to drive sustainable economic growth. Neelie Kroes, the Commission vice-president responsible, wants to see €7 billion earmarked for EU investments in broadband to help reach Digital Agenda targets, which in turn is meant to draw in private funds of many times that amount (see “European Commission proposes €9 billion broadband investment program”).“This study gives us the best view so far of where action is needed on broadband coverage,” said Neelie Kroes. “It will help to guide decisions on where EU and private money can be invested to provide the best long-term return for taxpayers and investors such as pension funds.”Titled Broadband Coverage in Europe in 2011, the new study shows that almost 96% of the homes in Europe now have access to basic broadband, meaning services offering at least 144 kbps, if they choose to subscribe. Over 50% can already get superfast broadband, providing speeds of at least 30 Mbps.Basic broadband is fairly widespread now; only three EU countries have less than 90% coverage. But there are huge variations in availability of superfast broadband. Three EU countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, and Malta) have over 98%; three others (Italy, Greece, and Cyprus) have less than 11%. All the rest are in the range between 35% and 75%. There are also large variations within countries. For example, rural areas across Europe as a whole are estimated to have only 12% superfast broadband coverage.The study also shows which competing technologies are taking a share of the superfast broadband market. In spite of its prominence in the news, fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) has the smallest share of the market (see “FTTH Council Europe cheers Spain, scolds the UK”). And VDSL, which provides superfast speeds over shorter copper telephone lines, only reached 21% of EU homes by the end of 2011.“Despite all the publicity, FTTP doesn’t offer the main route to digital heaven, at least not for the time being,” said Tim Johnson, who led the project as Point Topic’s chief analyst. “So far, FTTP covers only 12% of homes. The biggest providers of superfast services are the cable TV networks, which can now reach 37% of EU homes with the up-to-date DOCSIS 3.0 standard.”The three technologies together add up to only 50% total superfast coverage because they overlap a great deal, and are competing to serve the richer and more densely populated areas – leaving other areas underserved.
BT trials XG-PON broadband service
BT has launched what it claims is the first ever trial of a 10-Gbps or “hyper-fast” broadband network in a live working environment. The proof of concept trial uses XG-PON technology developed by Chinese vendor ZTE in partnership with Openreach.Cornwall-based engineering firm Arcol UK Ltd. is the test site for deployment of the new technology where the service runs in tandem with the company’s existing 330-Mbps service on the same fiber.Arcol is connected by a direct fiber link from its offices to BT’s exchange in Truro, and is the first business in the country to enjoy the record-breaking speeds. The firm has more bandwidth available than was used at the highest peak for the entire Olympics media network, according to BT.The demonstration aims to show how even faster speeds could be provided in the future over Cornwall’s new fiber-optic infrastructure by upgrading the electronics at the exchange and in user premises.Potential speeds are so fast that the networking and computer equipment prevent the line from being used at its maximum capacity. And although the direct link between the Truro exchange and Arcol runs at 10 Gbps, the company isn’t connected to the wider Internet at those speeds as there is nothing that can be done on the Web that requires such high speeds, BT says.Ranulf Scarbrough, program director for the Cornwall superfast broadband program, said, “What is exciting about this trial is that these hyper-fast speeds have been obtained over the exactly the same fiber that carries BT’s fiber broadband services today. All we are doing is changing the electronics at either end.“This trial shows we are thinking and ready for the future even though there are no current plans to deploy this technology. A lot of this project is about future proofing – making sure that it’s not just the fastest speeds today but that we can continue to be at the cutting edge for 5, 10, 20 years,” Scarbrough added.The 10-Gbps trial runs over the fiber-optic network established by the Superfast Cornwall program, a pioneering partnership between the EU, BT, and Cornwall Council, which has made fiber-optic broadband available to over 100,000 Cornish homes and businesses (see “BT launches FTTP project in Cornwall”).Until recently, Arcol’s 40 staff had shared a 1.5-Mbps Internet connection. Then the Superfast Cornwall program delivered high-speed fiber-optic cable to the business park enabling Arcol to connect at 330 Mbps. Alun Morgan, technical director at Arcol, said the ability to connect at such fast speeds was “opening the door” for the company to achieve much more."We are still only just discovering the sorts of things we can do with these speeds, such as taking advantage of services like videoconferencing and using a cloud-based ERP system so we can access this information elsewhere, and it has enabled us to be much more efficient and aggressive," he said.While BT claims this is the first trial of XG-PON in a live network, Verizon previously had conducted at least two field trials of prototype XG-PON1 technology (see “Verizon tests XG PON 10G GPON with Huawei equipment” and “Verizon's second field trial of 10 Gbps XG-PON FTTP affirms FiOS network design”). Both involved connection to a single-family home customer on a live network.
Dell'Oro: WDM equipment market revenues projected to surpass year 2000 peak
The rest of the optical networking space may not be doing very well, but a new report by Dell’Oro Group suggests the total WDM market, comprising both metro and long-haul applications, grew 14 percent year-over-year in 3Q12 and is forecast to reach $8 billion for the full year 2012 – exceeding the telecom high point of 2000.“It was the year 2000 when the WDM market peaked at $7.7 billion and then promptly burst downwards to $1.8 billion,” said Jimmy Yu, vice president of optical transport research at Dell’Oro Group. “Since then, it’s taken 12 long years to reach this milestone but we are finally on a path to best this previous revenue peak and to attain a new record revenue marker for the WDM market.”Dell’Oro is forecasting the total WDM market to be $8 billion for the full year 2012 as a larger number of service providers roll out 40 and 100 gigabit DWDM wavelengths to meet the rising demand for bandwidth. The market is expected to climb further in 2013.Manufacturers Huawei, Ciena, and Alcatel-Lucent dominated the market in 3Q 2012, says the analyst firm. Fujitsu and NEC picked up the number four and five spots.Dell’Oro’s statements regarding the health of WDM sales initially would appear to run counter to the assertions of other market research firms, such as Ovum and Infonetics, that the optical network hardware market is suffering (see, for example, “Optical hardware sales shrink y-o-y for third straight quarter, says Ovum” and “SONET/SDH sales shrinkage weighs down optical hardware sales in 3Q12 says Infonetics”). However, both of Dell’Oro’s competitors also have remarked on the uptick in WDM sales; it is the collapse of SONET/SDH equipment revenues that has dragged down the overall market.Dell’Oro says its Optical Transport Quarterly Report offers in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, average selling prices, unit shipments (by speed up to 100 Gbps). The report tracks DWDM long-haul terrestrial, WDM metro, multiservice multiplexers (SONET/SDH), optical switch, and packet optical transport platforms.
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