broadbandforumIt stands to reason and has been borne out time and again by experience, but a report from the Broadband Forum confirms that interoperability and certification are keys to “driving the transition to multi-vendor GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Networking) networks.”

GPON is expected to become the dominant fiber optic (FTTx) network access technology in 2016, “passing 200 million in 2018 to equal three out of five FTTx subscriptions worldwide,” according to a Broadband Forum press release.

Having conducted “the largest research project to date on certification and interoperability (C&I),” Informa, on behalf of the Broadband Forum, found that interoperability, or rather the lack thereof, poses one of the most significant hurdles to GPON adoption — and one that can be surmounted by GPON certification.

More than half (53%) of GPON operator respondents surveyed by Informa reported that “interoperability issues caused problems related to their internal testing burden.” Forty-four percent said they had had issues with network performance and 41% with greater management overhead.

In addition:

  • Interoperability (31%) is ranked number two in the operators’ ONU selection criteria behind price (41%), with maintenance costs (10%), software features (8%) hardware features (7%) and number of ports (5%) considerably less important to operator decisions
  • Certification is emerging as a key tool to drive the transition to multivendor GPON networks, with many service providers and vendors confident of deriving benefits.
  • Survey respondents said that, on average, certification could help, or has helped, shorten the time spent selecting and testing GPON ONUs by around 40%.
  • 2014 will see increased activity around GPON interoperability as several major operators move towards deploying multi-vendor networks, a host of smaller operator RFPs hit the market, and challenger vendors look to shake up the market.

The Broadband Forum’s report, “Optimizing the Fiber Business Case,” was released October 22, the opening day of this year’s Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam.

“These findings affirm the importance of the Broadband Forum BBF.247 certification program and TR-255 ONU/OLT interoperability test plan,” commented Broadband Forum CEO Robin Mersh.

“Establishing interoperability of GPON equipment is a key building block to simplifying the deployment of fiber networks, but as noted in the case studies, there is much to be done around NG-PON2, and the biggest challenges may well be ahead of us. This work has begun and got a good jump-start at a recently held workshop between the BBF, FSAN (Full Service Access Network) and the ITU-T.”

The Broadband Forum GPON Certification Program is the first in the industry. Obtaining certification “verifies the conformance of GPON ONUs and their adherence to the ITU-T GPON standard and to Broadband Forum specifications.” Ten companies have publicly listed products that have earned the BBR.247 certification to date.