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10 November 2011
Huawei has tested what it claims is the industry's first 40 Gigabit passive optical network (PON) prototype. The Chinese equipment vendor worked with the China Telecom Beijing Research Institute to test the technology prototype.
The optical access system uses a 40 Gbps downstream transmission rate (to the premises) and 10Gbps upstream. The system supports a 1:512 optical split ratio and has a reach of 20 km.
The industry is only now starting to offer 10 Gbps PON, with chipset vendors announcing devices that support the IEEE 10Gbps Ethernet PON (EPON) and the ITU-T 10Gbps Gigabit PON (XG-PON) standards, while operators are trialling the technology.
10G PON is seen as an attractive scheme for campuses, mobile backhaul and for providing Ethernet connectivity to enterprises. Indeed, some system vendors argue than 10G PON may end up being the unifying PON that allows operators to offer commercial, enterprise and consumer services on the same infrastructure. 
Deployments of 10G PON are expected to be gradual, starting from 2012. Accordingly, it will be several years before schemes faster than 10G PON will be required.  It is also not certain that the industry will choose 40 Gbps technology as the next step in the evolution of PON given that there are alternative candidate technologies such as WDM-PON, hybrid WDM/TDM schemes and coherent PON.
But a key attraction of 40G PON for operators is that the optical splitters in the outside fibre plant do not need to be modified before its deployment, avoiding a significant operational expense.
By Roy Rubenstein