On April 26, Li Junwei, manager of the Access and Home Network Research Office of China Mobile Communications Research Institute, delivered a keynote speech titled Thoughts on Optical Broadband Network Technology Evolution at the “Next Generation Broadband APAC 2022: Promoting Broadband Boundaries” webinar in the Asia Pacific region, elaborating on the key direction in optical access network development and the network quality upgrade plan of China Mobile.
Currently, China is rapidly entering the gigabit era. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the total number of broadband users reached 551 million by the end of March 2022, with over 93% of megabit users. The number of gigabit users also reached 45.96 million, accounting for 8.3% of the total users, a significant increase from 0.2% in 2019. The number of broadband users of China Mobile has exceeded 240 million, of which 200 Mbps or higher bandwidth has become the mainstream, and the number of gigabit users is also far ahead of other operators.
According to Li Junwei, the rapid development of new services, such as remote office and in-depth application of the industrial Internet, poses higher requirements on network quality, including bandwidth, latency, and jitter. To align with this trend, operators need to continuously promote the upgrade and evolution of next-generation intelligent optical access networks from PON networks, terminals, and Wi-Fi experience to realize the transformation from bandwidth monetization to experience monetization in the gigabit era.
The PON Network Evolution Roadmap Is Clear, and 50G PON Is the Next Generation
The gigabit home broadband era has arrived, and bandwidth over megabit has become the mainstream of user packages. China Mobile continues to improve fiber broadband capabilities. Currently, 10G GPON combo boards are deployed on CO OLTs in batches to support end-to-end gigabit access. Although there are multiple technical directions in the evolution after 10G PON, single-wavelength 50G PON is clearly the mainstream in the future.
50G PON features high bandwidth, low latency, and improved channelization capabilities. It is a new optical access base that is oriented to multiple scenarios and has differentiated bearer capabilities. It can meet the performance requirements of home scenarios and small and micro enterprises for ultra-gigabit bandwidth and lower latency. The large-scale deployment period of the PON technology is about seven years for each generation. As an industry-leading operator, China Mobile is actively promoting the maturity of the 50G PON technology and industry, and continuously exploring application scenarios and testing and verification. It is estimated that the trial commercial use will be started around 2025.
FTTR Is the Future Direction for Continuous Home Network Upgrade
Li Junwei said that there are three trends in the development of home networks: The average number of terminals in a home increases to more than 10. New services such as the Internet, HD/4K, Cloud VR, and online education continue to increase. The demand for full gigabit coverage to ensure ultimate experience is increasingly strong.
The evolution of home networks has come through four generations. The first-generation single family unit (SFU) provides the simplest network access function to realize broadband to the home. The second-generation home gateway unit (HGU) functions as the central point of home connections and provides the routing function. The third-generation smart iHGU functions as the connection center of home networks, supports fast provisioning of new value-added services, and supports app-based operation and management. Now, home networks are entering the fourth-generation FTTR networking era. Fiber-based distributed networking and Wi-Fi 6 technologies further enhance gigabit Wi-Fi coverage and collaboration capabilities of home networks, and resolve key issues of home user experience, such as unified SSID, roaming, and visualized and maintainable networking. FTTR networking provides ultra-gigabit bandwidth assurance for users, greatly improving user experience.
In the last-meter Wi-Fi technology, Wi-Fi has been upgraded from Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5, to Wi-Fi 6. With the increase of bandwidth, Wi-Fi 6 has been widely deployed and become the mainstream Wi-Fi technology.
FTTR is a brand-new development trend of home network technologies and needs to be standardized in terms of construction and evaluation. China Mobile actively cooperates with the industry chain and takes the lead in FTTR standardization in ITU-T and CCSA. In addition, China mobile is the first in the industry to build an experience-oriented and scenario-based automated test system for Wi-Fi 6 networking technologies.
In the end of his speech, Li Junwei concluded that China Mobile is promoting the construction of premium gigabit networks based on 10G PON + gigabit smart gateway + Wi-Fi6 and the rapid development of FTTR gigabit full-fiber networking. In the future, 50G PON will become the mainstream technology. We look forward to working with industry partners to promote the development of 50G PON technologies and the industry prosperity.