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PON Moves Towards the Enterprise


Teknovus and Furukawa introduced an SFP module that incorporates not just the optics for an ONU, but all of the electronics needed as well. That’s right, an entire FTTH ONU in a slightly oversized SFP. I call it “PON on a stick”, and I thought it was the most unique new product at OFC.

It’s evidence that some believe PON is destined to migrate from being a residential-only technology towards low cost connectivity for small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s). Even if point to point connectivity is used instead of PON, it’s still a very good idea. This approach collapses the entire Ethernet demarc functionality of a box like this or this into an SFP optical module.

For those who don’t know, SFP’s (Wikipedia link here) are optical modules which plug into networking equipment, allowing the data interfaces on a switch, router, PBX, etc. to be customized for different fiber environments and distance requirements.

If the BellCos or CableCos roll out fiber access for SME’s, I expect them to use this approach. Comcast has made public that their long term strategy is to attack the SME market, and a device like this gives them a clean hardware solution.

The module is technically remarkable. Teknovus silicon is highly integrated, allowing the entire solution to fit inside the confines of an SFP. Furukawa engineers were kind enough to show me the inside of the module (sorry, no photos allowed); the optical portion of it was a full custom implementation that was very impressive. Miniature R&D like this is what makes Japanese companies so impressive.

When NTT, Verizon, or future carriers install FTTH they provide a freestanding piece of equipment (the ONU) that is installed at the customer. It’s big and takes up a lot of space; it’s not ideal for cramped apartment or dense small business applications. A big plastic box with a power supply and multiple connectors is also inherently more expensive than a miniaturized SFP.

SFP-ONU Installed

Having “PON on a Stick” opens up the possibility of eliminating the ONU box entirely, replacing it with this module, and inserting it into SFP capable networking equipment. Future network upgrades to higher PON speeds are straightforward as the carrier can simply swap out the module, perhaps by mailing it directly to the customer for self installation.

Small businesses can insert the SFP into existing gateway routers, servers, or IP-PBX equipment. Imagine a new tenant calling the carrier for an SFP, installing it in their own equipment, and connecting to the existing fiber. Simple. Minimal hardware and no truck rolls.

In both cases the Carrier minimizes it’s involvement in the hardware business, and has a compact, very low cost solution for service demarcation that the customer can self install in any equipment they wish. Pretty neat.


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  1. Makes one wonder why Teknovus hasn’t been acquired yet.

    Posted by Niles | April 12, 2007, 11:22 AM
  2. I also consider this as one of big OFC news in access space, pretty neat when saw the demo. Interestingly this part was targeted for MDU and enterprise markets. FUR provides a rational channel for TEK MAC chips.
    Anyone know how much share FUR has in acess now? should be very small I guess, to move to support switch and router biz which is supposed to be big…

    Posted by Frank C. | May 3, 2007, 3:31 PM
  3. Teknovus and NTT collaborate on penetration of enterprise market
    Jul 8, 2008 |

    PETALUMA, CA — Teknovus, the leading provider of Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Network (G-EPON) chips for the deployment of triple-play services in broadband access networks, announced that Furukawa Electric’s (Furukawa) G-EPON SFP (Small Form-factor Pluggable) ONU, based on Teknovus’ G-EPON ONU chip, was displayed through NTT Communications Corporation (NTT Com) for Enterprise customers at Interop Tokyo 2008.

    NTT Com is a leading Japanese carrier, providing advanced information and communications technology (ICT) solutions worldwide, with annual revenues exceeding one trillion yen (approximately $10 billion).

    Posted by FAC | July 8, 2008, 11:48 PM
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