Fiber Drives Global Broadband Access Forward

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 
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FTTx access now serves more than 105 million global subscribers worldwide

  • 54 million broadband subscribers added from 3Q 2011 to 3Q 2012
  • Fiber deployments (including FTTx and FTTH) rise to serve over 125 million
  • Broadband Forum expands its G-PON certification program and kicks off new XG-PON1 and OLT/ONU interoperability testing

LONDON — As broadband subscribers approach 635 million globally, the latest figures published by the Broadband Forum and prepared by broadband industry analysts Point Topic reveal that hybrid fiber access (FTTx) has experienced the highest market gain over the past year. Of the 54 million new broadband subscribers added in the year leading up to 3Q 2012, 26 million are being served with fiber (48%). Overall, fiber deployments have now passed cable to account for 19.7% of the total broadband market.

Global market share by technology Q3 2012:

Copper   Cable    FTTx    FTTH   Other*    
------  ------  ------  ------  ------
57.81%  19.06%  16.77%   2.93%   3.43%

* Including wireless and satellite

Source: Point Topic, Q3 2012

This update is delivered on the opening day of the FTTH Conference Europe, a conference that aims to promote the benefits of fiber access across the continent and accelerate the availability of fiber-based, ultra-high-speed access networks to both consumers and businesses.

Growth in technology subscribers:

                          Fixed
     FTTx       FTTH   wireless      Cable  Satellite     Copper
---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------
    26.8%      22.5%      14.9%       7.9%      10.2%       4.8%

Source: Point Topic, Q3 2012

Technology subscribers:

Technology      Q3 2011      Q4 2011      Q1 2012      Q2 2012      Q3 2012
            -----------  -----------  -----------  -----------  -----------
Fiber        99,148,740  106,146,809  112,319,534  117,380,402  125,054,374
Copper      350,084,349  353,335,639  359,560,708  364,516,750  366,962,524
Cable       112,141,446  114,799,009  117,046,090  119,188,313  121,008,163
Other        19,108,390   19,821,067   20,639,885   21,201,091   21,748,794

Source: Point Topic, Q3 2012

Despite facing harsh economic times, the overall broadband growth during the third quarter 2012 is estimated at over 12 million lines. Oliver Johnson , CEO at Point Topic said: “As the world gradually emerges from financial turmoil the continued growth of broadband has been a steady light in the storm. We won’t see the triple digit growth of old but many markets are entering a phase of consolidation and consumer multi-service alignment.”
The Broadband Forum continues to expand its fiber-related solutions, building on its comprehensive BroadbandSuite™ 5.0 release, which is a major resource for the fiber industry to facilitate and accelerate the deployment of PON. The Broadband Forum G-PON ONU Certification Program – a world first initiative – is also expanding.

The certification program, known as BBF.247, is open to G-PON ONU products with Ethernet interfaces. This certification demonstrates that an ONU conforms to TR-156 and the associated OMCI configuration as defined in the ITU-T G.988, and provides vendors with the opportunity to test once and use their certification globally, saving testing cost and time as they compete in RFPs for business. Equally, it gives operators increased confidence in their vendor selection processes, another step towards providing truly interoperable solutions.

“Our G-PON Certification program will help the industry expedite fiber network rollout and pave the way for swift expansion of superfast broadband and the development of new technologies. It will enable next generation systems to come to the market faster and with interoperability from day one,” commented Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum.

The latest Broadband Forum work includes technical specifications related to Optical Access Nodes and associated test plans for conformance and inter-vendors interoperability. The ONU conformance testing program is being expanded to address specific ONU profiles. Test plans are also developing around a proposed Broadband Forum G-PON ONU/OLT test suite, which establishes OLT network interoperability with BBF.247 certified ONUs. Furthermore, the G-PON test plans are being extended to XG-PON1, covering both Physical Layer and upper layers for ITU-T PON technology.

Optical layer management for PON access and Layer 2 PON architecture and functional requirements are also in development, and projects on Intelligent Optical Distribution Networks (ODN) and Fiber to the Distribution Point (FTTdp) have just started. The FTTdp work is particularly exciting since it has the potential to speed up and simplify the installation of super-fast broadband. The Broadband Forum is working with the ITU-T to enable this new architecture, while ETSI is supporting the development by addressing the reverse powering aspects.