All about GPONs (Gigiabit passive optical networks)

July 25, 2019 at 8:00 AM


Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPONs) are popular forms of Passive Optical Networks (PONs). They are used for Internet access, digital TV and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) in highly populated areas. They can also be used for Wi-Fi hotspots, cellular base stations and distributed antenna systems (DAS). If you’re not up-to-speed on the ins and outs of GPON, we’ve got the blog post for you. Read on to get all the details.


GPONs are point-to-multi-point networks that use optical cables. The stand-out characteristic for these networks is the use of passive splitters in the fiber distribution network, which allows a single feeding fiber from the provider’s central office to serve multiple homes and small businesses. GPONs deliver up to a 1:64 ratio on a single fiber, making them 95% more efficient than standard copper wire. Through the use of splitters, they also deliver a low cost solution for adding users, making them ideal for use in metropolitan areas. Additionally, GPONs support all Ethernet protocols, and for security they use the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).


To paint a general picture of how a GPON works, these networks are made up of Optical Line Terminals (OLT), an Optical Network Unit (ONU) and a splitter that will divide the signal when necessary. They use Optical Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) so that one fiber can be used for both downstream and upstream data. These networks can transmit Ethernet, Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) and ATM transactions. They are ideal for networks with multiple separated points or buildings. They allow the end user to consolidate multiple services into a single fiber network, providing 2.5 GB/s of downstream and 1.25 GB/s of upstream capabilities. GPONs also increase bandwidth while reducing costs and infrastructure, delivering a range of benefits for rapid, flexible, mass-market fiber deployments with the lowest cost possible.


The most recent GPON versions are 10-Gigabit iterations called XGPON, or 10G-PON. These support the increased demand for faster speeds and are able to handle an influx of high-definition data to support video and over-the-top (OTT) TV services. They have a maximum downstream rate of 10 GB/s and 2.5 GB/s for upstream transmissions while using the same fiber as standard GPON. Though not yet widely implemented, XPON delivers a promising way for service providers and customers to upgrade without deploying new infrastructure.


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