802.3ca Ethernet Passive Optical Networks

January 24, 2019 at 8:00 AM

 

Today, passive optical networks (PONs) are commonly used as a cost-effective way to deliver optical broadband services to many users. This technology is comprised of point-to-multipoint networks that use an optical line terminal at the central office connected to multiple optical network units placed inside the user’s home via a feeder fiber and an optical splitter. The IEEE has already standardized PONs in the 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps range, Gigabit Ethernet PON (G-PON) and 10 Gigabit Ethernet PON (10G-EPON), now it is setting its sights on standardizing 50 Gigabit Ethernet PON (50G-EPON) with the development of the 802.3ca standard.

 

The goal of 802.3ca is to support the subscriber access networks that use point-to-multipoint arrangements on optical fiber. This standard will provide specifications for physical layers that operate over one single-mode optical fiber (SMF) strand. It will support symmetric and/or asymmetric data rates in these ranges:

  

  • ·       25 Gbps in downstream and 10 or 25 Gbps in upstream (25G-EPON)
  • ·        50 Gbps in downstream and 10, 25 or 50 Gbps in upstream (50G-EPON)

 

802.3ca will also support legacy PON technologies such as 10G-EPON and 10 Gigabit-capable symmetric PON (XGS-PON). Originally, 100 Gbps speeds were going to be an objective of this standard, but that was deemed to be too technically challenging, not economically feasible and not needed for 10 years, so 50 Gbps wavelengths were chosen to be a better technical solution.

 

The IEEE has begun the process of developing 802.3ca by organizing a task force with the mission of determining the specific protocols for the standard. This process is currently underway and is expected to complete in the 2nd quarter of 2020. So, even though we’re a ways out, there is still much to look forward to as the 802.3ca standard evolves.

 

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