NBN demos Nokia 100G PON tech on live network

Australia's NBN has laid claim to a world first by using 100G PON tech to reach 83 Gbps on its live full fibre access network.

Nick Wood

April 17, 2024

3 Min Read

The wholesaler is in the process of deploying Nokia's Lightspan MF-14 optical light terminal (OLT) on its FTTP network, having struck a deal with the Finnish kit maker in late 2022.

Nokia's solution promises a four-fold improvement in capacity compared to previous generations, and supports simultaneous XGSPON, 25GS, 50G, and 100G PON services. Currently the maximum fibre speed on offer from NBN – the Home Ultrafast package – tops out at 1 Gbps, so this represents a significant future upgrade for Australian broadband customers.

"The average Aussie home is forecast to download around one terabyte per month within the next decade and technologies, like augmented reality and generative artificial intelligence, will place even greater demand on the network," said Dion Ljubanovic, NBN's chief networks officer.

With help from researchers from Nokia Bell Labs, NBN conducted two demonstrations at one of its FTTP exchanges in Sydney. The first combined XGSPON, 25GS and 50G signals, reaching an aggregate Layer 1 PON downstream speed of 85 Gbps, and a Layer 2 download speed of 71 Gbps.

In the second demonstration, XGSPON, 25GS, and 100G PON were combined to reach 135 Gbps downstream Layer 1 throughput, and a Layer 2 download speed of 112 Gbps. The 100G signal topped out at 83 Gbps, which is that world first that NBN and Nokia have laid claim to.

This latest demo eclipses the last one carried out by NBN and Nokia last October, which achieved symmetrical throughput of 21 Gbps. At the time, it was a new speed record for PON in Australia.

"We are always looking for ways to push the capabilities – in both speed and reliability – of the entire NBN network. This successful demonstration shows we have the potential to deliver a step change in next-generation speeds over our network in the long term," Ljubanovic said.

According to internal figures from NBN, data demand and usage of its network has doubled in the last five years, with the average household now boasting 22 connected devices, and consuming 443 gigabytes per month. NBN expects this to increase to 33 devices by 2026, reaching 40 by the end of the decade.

In March, it announced plans to increase the maximum available speeds on its FTTP and hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) networks at no extra cost to retail ISPs. The rollout will take place during the course of the year, and should reach approximately 9 million premises by December.

Nokia is encouraging service providers to think bigger than mere broadband though.

"There is a huge opportunity for operators to leverage their existing fibre broadband networks to efficiently add advanced services which goes way beyond consumer services. Think enterprise, mobile backhaul, smart city, industry 4.0," said Geert Heyninck VP of broadband networks at Nokia. "It's important for service providers to have choices to match the right speed and cost points to meet the different use cases."

"Nokia's demonstration showcases the strength of the PON technology today and the multiple pathways available to support the applications of tomorrow," agreed Jaimie Lenderman, principal analyst and research manager at Omdia. "The flexibility to choose between 10G, 25G, 50G, and eventually 100G and beyond empowers operators to customise their networks based upon customer requirements and future service plans for residential, enterprise, and beyond."

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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