Switching to an all-optical network – The best ROI when upgrading your infrastructure?
Companies needing to upgrade or replace existing telecommunications networks look for ways to improve efficiency while reducing capital expenditure and operating expenses. IT and network managers seek solutions that provide high bandwidth while improving network security and reliability.
To meet these requirements, companies are increasingly turning to Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON) or Passive Optical LANs (POLAN). Passive optical networks add significant value to businesses without requiring any operational changes. The existing applications and services provided by the local network remain the same, with no major changes to the core network or user devices.
What is POL?
POL (Passive Optical LAN) or POLAN (Passive Optical Local Area Network) is a new way of designing telecommunication networks, replacing the traditional copper-based Ethernet LANs which are no longer efficient for high-throughput applications.
Active network distribution and aggregation switches are replaced by optical splitters which passively direct the data flow from the core network to the user. The signal from the core transmitter is divided equally into multiple downstream paths to a large number of users.
POL is based on PON (Passive Optical Network), a proven protocol used by operators for several decades, which brings the optical signal directly to the user’s home (FTTH – Fiber to the Home).
POL vs Ethernet – What are the benefits?
Space and energy savings: in the majority of cases, POL reduces or eliminates the need for telecom cabinets, including racks, grounding systems, cable trays, protection sleeves and firewalls. Eliminating local cabinets and switches frees up space and reduces energy consumption, both directly and indirectly, by eliminating heating, ventilation, air conditioning and cooling costs.
Reduced cabling volume: POL supplies multiple horizontal fibers from a single switch port, multiple ports from a single fiber-to-cable connection, and a 50-70% reduction in structured cabling. This results in a lower stress load on the building and reduced footprint in the ceiling space.
Improved security: Optical fiber is a more secure medium than copper cabling, and optical network terminals (ONTs) are inherently secure because they are designed with no local management access.
Future-proofing your cabling infrastructure: Choosing fiber optic cable for your structured cabling will provide greater return on investment, as it will extend the lifespan of your cabling infrastructure from 5-7 years to 25 years or more. Fiber optics can also meet the requirements of future high throughput protocols, as the technology does not suffer from the limitations of copper networks.
A growing market
The exponential growth of the telecommunications industry over the past decade has increased the growth prospects of the POL market. Expanded services of telecom companies for voice, data, video, and wireless for multiple applications requiring higher bandwidth are fueling the demand for passive optical LAN. Other factors such as the adoption of the Internet of Things, and the growing popularity of cloud-based services are contributing to the growth of the POL market.
Asia-Pacific is expected to continue to hold a significant share of the POL market in the coming years. Technological advancement, the expansion of the fiber optic network, and the development of systems administration in China and India are contributing immensely to the growth of the POL market in the region. Deployment projects in Europe and North America are becoming more and more commonplace.
While only a few projects have been implemented in the services sector in Europe, the reliability of the technology has been validated by the widespread installation of GPONs by operators over the last decade.
No need to replace your optical fiber!
The POL operates exclusively on single-mode optical fiber. Active equipment and optical splitters are not compatible with first-generation multimode fiber (OM1, OM2…). In addition, deploying a POLAN requires replacing existing copper cabling, which can be costly and time consuming.
However, if the network already includes multimode fiber, these cables can be converted to single-mode fiber to make them compatible with any POL architecture. The light shaping technology of the AROONA solution enables the deployment of a POL network by reusing the existing multimode fiber.
All you need to do is install a box (rack or compact module depending on the number of cables to be upgraded) by splicing it to each existing MMF link. AROONA can convert the backbone link (OLT to Splitter), the horizontal link (Splitter to ONT) or both, depending on the location of the existing MMF. The solution is passive, so the AROONA requires no additional energy consumption or configuration:
Converting the OLT-to-Splitter link using AROONA
Converting the Splitter-to-ONT link using AROONA
At a time when energy prices represent an increasingly significant portion of total corporate network costs, fiber optics is fast becoming an optimal business solution from a technical and financial perspective.
The key financial advantage of the POL network is in its name: it is a passive network, so it does not require a telecom room or intermediate switches (so no power supply, air conditioning, or backup power supply, etc.). It also requires much less cabling, and simplifies routine maintenance tasks. These advantages result in a significant reduction in capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expenses (OPEX).
In addition, fiber optics will future-proof your network, making it possible to meet future bandwidth needs. Although single-mode fiber is required for the POL, the AROONA solution enables the network to be deployed on existing multimode fiber, thus eliminating the cost and complexity of replacing the cabling.
By Jean-Philippe Gauthier
Jean-Philippe Gauthier holds a PhD in Physics from INSA Rennes (2011). After working for five years in industry as a project manager in connected objects and Industry 4.0, he joined Cailabs in 2020 as pre-sales engineer for the AROONA product range.