Adtran RDOF
Industry Insight Series

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) has set a minimum performance tier of 25/3 Mbps but prioritized support for services with faster speeds and lower latency. The goal was to close the “digital divide” and encourage providers to offer affordable, reliable broadband connectivity everywhere. Fiber stands tall among all technologies as the most adaptive technology with the highest capacity and lowest latency. It is the prime high-speed network that RDOF favors.

But not all fiber technologies are the same. Once the hard work of laying fiber is done, providers need to consider the vast benefits that a superior fiber technology can bring at a marginal increase in capital expense. A provider must think long-term when considering a fiber technology and determine the types of services it wants to deploy not only today but in the next few years. Possible services include smart city applications and 5G densification. Providers need to avoid overbuilding the same network a few years down the road.

Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Network (GPON) and 10 Gigabit Symmetric Passive Optical Network (XGS-PON) are among the most popular fiber technologies. ITU-T G.984 GPON enables broadband services with 2.5Gbps of downstream capacity and 1.25Gbps of upstream capacity. It was introduced about 20 years ago. Many consider GPON to be a mature technology with cost-effective Optical Networking Units (ONUs) used to terminate PON, as well as cost-effective transceiver optics solutions.

XGS-PON was introduced more recently and provides symmetric 10G bandwidth, supporting the most bandwidth-intensive applications of tomorrow. While GPON networks have delivered an excellent return on investment for services in the 100Mbps to 250Mbps range during the last two decades, XGS-PON will carry the torch forward for the Gigabit Society, where broadband services ranging from 250Mbps to multiple gigabits will become the de-facto standard over the next 20 years.

The question of when to make the switch from GPON to XGS-PON to power your optical distribution network (ODN) is top of mind. The difference in cost for a GPON-based ONU and an XGS-PON-based ONU when scaled to 100,000 subscribers or more can be significant enough to favor deploying GPON. But many service providers look beyond the 20-to-30 percent increase in the cost of XGS-PON electronics over GPON and compare the total cost to connect an FTTH subscriber. With the ONU making up a small portion of the overall connection cost, the use of XGS-PON over GPON carries a premium of around two-to-three percent.

The bottom line is that when making network investment decisions with a decade-long impact, XGS-PON provides the next-generation fiber access technology needed to support network scale, density, and flexibility to help bring modern services and applications to the most remote parts of America. Learn more at

This series features insight into important broadband industry issues from industry leaders.

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