Researcher says passive optical LAN market poised to take off

March 1, 2016
BSRIA suggests POL could threaten copper networks in enterprise environments.

By Patrick McLaughlin

Market research firm BSRIA ( recently published a market briefing covering passive optical local area networks (POLs), and the researcher who authored the briefing said POL technology “could potentially become a threat to copper cabling in LAN applications over the coming years.”

BSRIA senior researcher for IT cabling and related technologies, Martin Chiesa, commented, “POL is here to stay, but the speed at which it penetrates the market will depend on more vendors entering the market (medium to large size corporations, particularly in the active component side); increased bandwidth without boosting costs; compatibility of systems as opposed to proprietary solutions; and that IT network professionals, consultants, architects, developers and end users are made aware of POL and its advantages, as well as increasing the solutions for powering remotely located optical network terminals [ONTs].”

He explained that currently, the ITU-T G.984 standard, Gigabit-Capable Passive Optical Networks (GPON), offers 2.4-Gbit/sec downstream and 1.2-Gbit/sec upstream bandwidth, but the next generation, ITU-T G.987 10-Gigabit-Capable Passive Optical Network (GX-PON) Systems, “will offer symmetrical 10-Gbit/sec bandwidth and is expected to be released in 2016. BSRIA was also informed that 25-Gbit and 100-Gbit/sec standards are ‘imminent.’”

Chiesa described POL networks adapted to LAN environments as “disruptive technologies.” He continued, “They bring a number of advantages that mainly benefit the end users, as they greatly reduce capital expenditure, operational expenditure and with them the total cost of ownership of the IT infrastructure. Due to the market opportunity this creates, BSRIA has seen smaller networking manufacturers making great efforts to inform relevant parties about the technology and its advantages.”

BSRIA sizes up that in the short term, POL will continue to be a market driven by smaller players. The researcher expects the market to grow at double-digit rates annually, “but will only really take off when a big player or several medium sized players enter the market with a clear go-to-market strategy-as opposed to a me-too approach-or there is a greater awareness among specifiers and the relevant parties.”

The research organization noted that programs such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) can help boost the market penetration of POLs because they can increase awareness among consultants, architects and real estate developers “if credits are awarded as a result of installing POL on the premises.”

While potential users await standardized 10-Gbit/sec POL technology, POL provider Tellabs ( gave the cabling industry a sneak preview of such equipment a year ago. At the BICSI Winter Conference held in February 2015, Tellabs showcased 10-Gbit optical LAN capability. At that time, the company explained that its 10-Gbit optical LAN technology “will provide symmetrical capacity of 10 Gbits/sec in both upstream and downstream directions. Tellabs will also enable a graceful migration path to 10-GbE that minimizes impact to existing users and leverages the existing architecture.”

Patrick McLaughlin is our chief editor.

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