Adam Hollingworth for NBN Co

GFiber Labs and NBN Co set milestone with access to 20Gbps broadband

Setting benchmarks in their countries, providers in the US and Australia use Nokia 25G PON technology to deliver 20Gbps services to meet connectivity demands of residential and enterprise customers with existing fibre networks

Passive optical network (PON) technology is enjoying great success in terms of deployment by major providers around the world, and comms tech provider Nokia has announced two milestone deployments, with Google Fiber deploying its 25G PON offering in the US to enhance its existing fibre network and deliver a new 20Gbps broadband service to customers through GFiber Labs, and Australia’s NBN Co having successfully trialled multi-gigabit technologies concurrently on the same fibre in its live network achieving speeds of 20Gbps symmetric on 25G PON.

Nokia believes that in the current digital landscape, demand for high-speed broadband access is at an all-time high, with users increasingly seeking multi-gigabit, low-latency services to power businesses. It added that from supporting artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security and bandwidth-hungry applications like virtual reality, to ensuring that large data transfers can be made in seconds, users want multi-gigabit services that can evolve with their broadband needs and deliver the ultimate user experience.

Analysts also believe 25G PON will drive new and exciting applications. Omdia said the announcements highlight the momentum that is building for 25G PON. “With a robust ecosystem, 25G PON can be a natural fit for those operators that want to pursue higher-revenue customers and applications,” said Julie Kunstler, chief analyst for the broadband access intelligence service at Omdia. “Because you can use the same underlying infrastructure as FTTH [fibre to the home], this means more revenues without expensive new network builds or additional operational costs.”

Nokia said the introduction of its 25G PON solution would allow GFiber to establish a future-ready network that can address the growing demand for more capacity and enhanced broadband services, and provide broadband speeds that are up to 10 times faster than what most fibre networks can currently deliver. In addition, the 25G PON solution will allow GFiber to reuse its existing optical fibre cables and active equipment deployed in its network to quickly deliver a 20Gbps symmetrical broadband service to customers.

The use of its Lightspan and Altiplano solutions is said to allow the provider to increase service agility with operational efficiency. The fibre access node supports multiple fibre technologies including GPON, XGS-PON, 25GS-PON and Point-to-Point Ethernet to deliver a range of services. GFiber Labs is currently using this technology to deliver 20Gbps services to the University Of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and United Way of Utah County, and such options will be available to select residential customers by the end of this year.

“The age of multi-gig broadband services is here and we’re committed to ensuring all of our customers can benefit from the incredible potential it brings”
Liz Hsu, Google Fiber

“The age of multi-gig broadband services is here and we’re committed to ensuring all of our customers can benefit from the incredible potential it brings,” said Liz Hsu, senior director, of product and billing at Google Fiber. “We believe investments in advanced network technologies like Nokia’s 25G PON solution will help catalyse change, drive innovation and revolutionise the user experience. We’re thrilled to be working with Nokia to move our industry and customers forward.” 

Australia’s nbn network is seen as the country’s digital backbone and is designed to evolve constantly to keep communities and businesses connected, lifting the country’s digital capability by delivering reliable, fast, resilient and secure broadband over the wholesale access network, working collaboratively with internet retailers to deliver the required customer experience, reduce cost, and drive industry efficiency and sustainability.

The network is run by NBN Co, which has just announced the successful completion of a field trial with Nokia using three generations of PON technologies – GPON, XGS PON and 25GS PON – over its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network. During the field trial, NBN Co and Nokia were able to achieve speeds of 8Gbps (symmetric) on XGS PON and 20Gbps (symmetric) on 25GS PON – a new Australian record for a passive optical network.

This is the first time NBN Co has demonstrated these capabilities on its fibre in the field, with previous testing done in a lab setting. The trial is an important step in delivering NBN Co’s long-term network strategy, which is exploring the introduction of multi-gigabit services to homes, businesses and new developments across the country in the future.

“This successful trial shows us that the performance of the fibre we deploy in our fixed-line footprint is limited only by the capabilities of equipment connected to it – as new solutions become available, we can introduce them to increase the capabilities and speeds we can offer on the network,” explained NBN Co’s chief network officer, Dion Ljubanovic.

“Homes and businesses across Australia are demanding more data than ever before, and this will only continue to accelerate over the coming decade as we see increased adoption and applications of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual and immersive reality. We now have around 775,000 homes on the nbn network using more than a terabyte of data per month, which has grown by more than 30% in the last year alone. As we plan and begin to deliver upgrades in the network now for the demand we expect to see in five, 10 or 20 years’ time, trials like this are so important.”

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