What is FTTP?

Fiber to the premises (FTTP) is a passive optical fiber network (PON) that only uses fiber and passive components like splitters and combiners rather than active components like amplifiers, repeaters, or shaping circuits. Such networks cost significantly less than those using active components. The main disadvantage is a shorter range of coverage limited by signal strength. While an active optical network (AON) can cover a range to about 100 km (62 miles), a PON is typically limited to fiber cable runs of up to 20 km (12 miles). PONs also are called fiber to the home (FTTH) networks.

The typical PON arrangement is a point to multi-point (P2MP) network where a central optical line terminal (OLT) at the service provider’s facility distributes TV or Internet service to as many as 16 to 128 customers per fiber line (see the figure below). Optical splitters are passive optical devices that divide a single optical signal into multiple equal but lower-power signals. An optical network unit (ONU) terminates the PON at the customer’s home usually with a wireless router. An alternate term used for ONU is ONT (optical network terminal). The ONU/ONT communicates with an optical line terminal (OLT) .

In the basic method of operation for downstream distribution on one wavelength of light from OLT to ONU/ONT, all customers receive the same data. The ONU recognizes data targeted at each user. For the upstream from ONU to OLT, a time division multiplex (TDM) technique is used where each user is assigned a timeslot on a different wavelength of light. With this arrangement, the splitters act as power combiners. The upstream transmissions, called burst-mode operations, occur at random as a user needs to send data. The system assigns a slot as needed. Because the TDM method involves multiple users on a single transmission, the upstream data rate is always slower than the downstream rate.

Over the years, various PON standards have been developed. In the late 1990s, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) created the APON standard, which used the Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) for long-haul packet transmission. Since ATM is no longer used, a newer version was created called the broadband PON, or BPON. Designated as ITU-T G.983, this standard provided for 622 Mbits/s downstream and 155 Mbits/s upstream.

While BPON may still be used in some systems, most current networks use GPON, or Gigabit PON. The ITU-T standard is G.984. It delivers 2.488 Gbits/s downstream and 1.244 Gbits/s upstream.

GPON uses optical wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) so a single fiber can be used for both downstream and upstream data. A laser on a wavelength (λ) of 1490 nm transmits downstream data. Upstream data transmits on a wavelength of 1310 nm. If TV is being distributed, a wavelength of 1550 nm is used.

While each ONU gets the full downstream rate of 2.488 Gbits/s, GPON uses a time division multiple access (TDMA) format to allocate a specific timeslot to each user. This divides the bandwidth so each user gets a fraction such as 100 Mbits/s depending upon how the service provider allocates it.

The upstream rate is less than the maximum because it is shared with other ONUs in a TDMA scheme. The OLT determines the distance and time delay of each subscriber. Then software provides a way to allot timeslots to upstream data for each user.

The typical split of a single fiber is 1:32 or 1:64. That means each fiber can serve up to 32 or 64 subscribers. Split ratios up to 1:128 are possible in some systems.

GPON also uses a generic encapsulation method to carry other protocols. It can encapsulate Ethernet, IP, TCP, UDP, T1/E1, video, VoIP, or other protocols as called for by the data transmission. Minimum packet size is 53 bytes, and the maximum is 1518. AES encryption is used downstream only.

The latest version of GPON is a 10-Gigabit version called XGPON, or 10G-PON. As the demand for video and over the top (OTT) TV services has increased, there is an increasing need to boost line rates to handle the massive data of high-definition video. XGPON serves this purpose. The ITU standard is G.987.

XGPON’s maximum rate is 10 Gbits/s (9.95328) downstream and 2.5 Gbits/s (2.48832) upstream. Different WDM wavelengths are used, 1577 nm downstream and 1270 nm upstream. This allows 10-Gbit/s service to coexist on the same fiber with standard GPON. Optical split is 1:128, and data formatting is the same as GPON. Maximum range is still 20 km. XGPON is not yet widely implemented but provides an excellent upgrade path for service providers and customers.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) developed another newer PON standard. Based on the Ethernet standard 802.3, EPON 802.3ah specifies a similar passive network with a range of up to 20 km. It uses WDM with the same optical frequencies as GPON and TDMA. The raw line data rate is 1.25 Gbits/s in both the downstream and upstream directions. You will sometimes hear the network referred to as Gigabit Ethernet PON or GEPON.

EPON is fully compatible with other Ethernet standards, so no conversion or encapsulation is necessary when connecting to Ethernet-based networks on either end. The same Ethernet frame is used with a payload of up to 1518 bytes. EPON does not use the CSMA/CD access method used in other versions of Ethernet. Since Ethernet is the primary networking technology used in local-area networks (LANs) and now in metro-area networks (MANs), no protocol conversion is needed.

There is also a 10-Gbit/s Ethernet version designated 802.3av. The actual line rate is 10.3125 Gbits/s. The primary mode is 10 Gbits/s upstream as well as downstream. A variation uses 10 Gbits/s downstream and 1 Gbit/s upstream. The 10-Gbit/s versions use different optical wavelengths on the fiber, 1575 to 1580 nm downstream and 1260 to 1280 nm upstream so the 10-Gbit/s system can be wavelength multiplexed on the same fiber as a standard 1-Gbit/s system.

Credits: This article is adopted from https://www.electronicdesign.com/what-s-difference-between/what-s-difference-between-epon-and-gpon-optical-fiber-networks