Analysts said that operators in the Asia-Pacific region are leading the transition to next-generation PON.

Experts stated at the Asia-Pacific Conference of Light Reading Next Generation Broadband that the huge user base, the growing demand for existing networks, the ever-expanding PON use cases and long-term strategic planning are driving Asia-Pacific operators to upgrade their PON networks.

Dell’Oro broadband access and home network analyst Jeff Heynen said: “We are now seeing a significant and large-scale migration to 10G in this area.” He said that as operators expand their gigabit services, various new growth trend of 10G ports is obvious. In the Asia-Pacific region (including China), approximately 75% of fixed broadband users use fiber optic services, and he expects this proportion to rise to 85% by 2025.

According to Omdia’s forecast, the Asia-Pacific PON equipment market will have a compound annual growth rate of 17% in the next five years, and the scale will reach US$3.4 billion.

Jaimie Lenderman, a senior analyst focusing on service provider networks, said that due to the spread of the epidemic and operators’ expenditures in advance, PON is playing an increasing role in its long-term strategy. She said: “Operators have been considering the long-term goal of fixed-mobile convergence to have a cohesive network that can be supplied end-to-end. PON has great opportunities for development in the Asia-Pacific region. We have made very bold predictions, but we are very confident about this.”

The application of PON began in FTTH residential buildings, but is now expanding to the small and medium-sized enterprise market and is being deployed by some Asian operators in smart cities and other applications. And it is widely advertised for wireless backhaul.

She said: “The ultimate goal is to form a converged single-fiber access network to support FTTH, small and medium-sized enterprises, large enterprises and smart cities.” In the future, it can be upgraded to 25G and 50G, and may support x-haul, 5G front-haul and network slicing.

SKT senior manager Hong Seok Shin said that the company has signed contracts with many commercial customers attracted by symmetric data rates. The Korean telecom operator has provided 10G services since the end of 2018.

He said that SKT plans to use 10G PON in Small Cell and 5G backhaul because its time synchronization is more accurate. He said: “For the next generation of PON, we will definitely want more bandwidth, and these bandwidth will be used for mobile front-haul.”

Kurt Rodgers, network strategy manager of Chorus, a New Zealand wholesale supplier, said that although it is upgrading to 10G, it is expected that the scale will not be too large in the short term because the cost of equipment is still quite high. He said: “Upgrading OLT requires a lot of cost. We hope to see the cost of optical networks drop, including 10G Ethernet ports, Wi-Fi6, etc.. We all know that low cost can promote market development.”