December 4, 2019 by Alan DiCicco

The Future of 10G PON is a Numbers Game


“Subscribers don’t need a gigabit service. No way!”

Ever heard something like that from a colleague? The rationale is that there are not enough bandwidth hungry applications and devices in the home to generate a sustained bandwidth demand in excess of 100 Mbps, let alone 1 Gbps. This is probably true for nearly all homes today – but it doesn’t mean that 10G PON isn’t in your immediate future.

Streaming media generates the most data into and out of the home, so here are some media numbers to keep track of as you contemplate 10G PON.

Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index (VNI) predicts IP video traffic will grow to 82 percent of all IP traffic by 2022, up from 75 percent in 2017. Ultra HD (4K) will be 22.3 percent of video traffic by 2022, while 56.8 percent will be HD (1080p). A 4K UHD video from Netflix uses roughly 25 Mbps, so if you’re thinking about an 8K UHD TV this holiday season, better plan 3-4x the 4K UHD bandwidth consumption.

Google’s Stadia, a cloud-native gaming service, came to market just recently. They’ll have some growing pains, but for only $9.99 per month you can play a dazzling array of games on your home 4K big screen without an expensive home gaming platform. Google says this ultimate experience will ‘only’ consume 35 Mbps sustained downstream bandwidth for each 4K screen… and that’s the good news. Some homes will have several multi-player gamers at one time, all while you’re still trying to watch your latest Netflix show.

How about cloud-based streaming virtual reality? Verizon has developed some great augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality demonstrations to show off the capabilities of their 5G network. A strong interactive VR experience with comfortable refresh rates and peripheral vision coverage could be 250Mbs or greater – estimates vary wildly based on innovation that is still in its infancy.

None of these individual streaming media services have bandwidth consumption near 1 Gbps yet, so why are we talking about 10G PON? Because the capacity of the 2.5 Gbps GPON network will be exhausted by the aggregate bandwidth consumption. If 30 subscribers on a GPON network are using 100 Mbps to stream their Friday night favorite 4K/8K UHD videos, online games, and altered reality of choice, the GPON network is overloaded at 3 Gbps. The bottleneck won’t be the 1 Gbps subscriber service, though that will be a problem soon enough. Rather, you’ll need more shared PON capacity and you’ll need it soon. If you have 64-way splits on the PON, you’ll need to move to 10G PON even faster.

Fortunately, you have options and solutions to match your networking needs. Moving to 10G PON is easier than it seems. Start planning now, watch the numbers, and make the moves that will delight your subscribers.

What’s your perspective?

There’s plenty more to read and share on the Calix Perspectives pages. I look forward to hearing yours.