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Expert’s Forum

Wei Leping, CTO of China Telecom

Development and prospects

for Fiber Communication
Technologies By Wei Leping
By Wei Leping

This article provides a brief summary and an overview of prospects for the development
trend of key technical fields in the fiber communications system. The main conclusions
are: SDH will be transformed into a converged, low-cost multi-service platform. Some
new optical Ethernet solutions are meeting the functionality and performance
requirements imposed by public telecom networks.
These solutions provide choices for metropolitan multi-service networks, but there are a
series of issues that still need further clarification and improvement. 40Gbit/s transmission
technology is nearing the final stages of its development, but it will be awhile before
large-scale commercial application is realized. The technology and market for ultra-long-
haul WDM is mature; and coarse WDM prospects will be good in metropolitan area
networks in China. Point-to-point WDM transmission will evolve towards an automatic
switched optical network. EPON and GPON will become the leading FTTH technologies.
However, the large-scale deployment of FTTH technologies still needs further con-
sideration in terms of the cost, deployment technologies and types of applications.

t the beginning of this century, a huge burst occurred in the network,

Wei Leping
Chief Technology Officer, China Telecom Corporation fiber, and 3G bubbles that threw the telecom industry worldwide into a
President, Beijing Research Institute of China Telecom tight corner, and fiber communications was the first area to be affected.
Corporation Fortunately, inherent demands for telecommunications are still very much
Commissioner, 1st IT Specialists Commission of in evidence. People still make calls and access the internet; short message
National 863 Plan is becoming more and more popular; and IPTV is simmering and almost ready to be
Director, Communication Network Committee, China served up in the telecommunications market. In fact, the telecom market keeps growing
Communications Academy
and growing. For instance, the demand on network bandwidth worldwide grows at a
Deputy Director, Optical Communications rate of 50% to 100% annually, and backbone service and bandwidth demand in China
Committee, China Communication
has grown at a rate of nearly 200% in previous years. The difficulty brought about by
the bubble burst has only made the speed of development slower, but it has never halted
the development of telecommunications technologies and service. After years of
realignment, the telecom industry is now back-on-track and the market is appearing to
be more stable and normal. This article only gives a brief summary of the development
trend and prospects for fiber communications technologies.

SDH is transforming into the converged, low-cost

multi-service platform of next generation
SDH is considered by many to be the mainstream transport hierarchy in telecom
networks. However, due to the emergence and continued development of WDM, SDH

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has changed much in terms of both its mechanism. In addition, because each be dynamically adjusted, without the need
position within a network and applications. process of random byte blocks is simplified, of manual operations. Hence, this feature
For example, on the long-haul backbone, GFP imposes less stringent requirements on increases network utilization significantly,
SDH has been reduced in importance and the mapping and demapping process of data while also offering guaranteed QoS.
position, to being the client layer of WDM links. By using the low BER feature of ASON can set up and manage
and its application in this instance is moving modern communications, GFP also provides connections dynamically, thus achieving the
it to the network edge. Because client signals improvement of the following areas: receiver functionality of automatic routing and
at the network edge are complicated, SDH complexity, equipment provisioning. If the next-generation SDH
must transform itself, from being solely a size, and costs. This MSTP is able to integrate standard functions
single transport network, to becoming a makes it a tech- like, VC concatenation, GFP, LCAS and
multi-service platform, which is capable of nology that is ASON, then with the help of the
integrating both the transport network and perfectly suited automatic routing and provisioning
the service network. That is to say, each SDH to high- functionality of Core ASON, such
node needs to become a converged multi- a transport platform could greatly
service node. Thus, once this has been enhance its support to data services in a
accomplished then we will be able to make flexible and efficient manner. In addition,
full use of a more trustworthy and mature the intelligent features of Core ASON
SDH technology, especially concerning such are expanded to the network edge, with
aspects as its service protection and the outgrowth resulting in enlarged
guaranteed delay performance. Other intelligent coverage and higher
advantages to be gained would also include efficiency of the network.
its newly formed ability to adapt Because MSTP based MAN is
to multi-service applications facing stiff competition from optical
and support Layer 2, or even Ethernet, the MSTP has been forced to
Layer 3 intelligent data lower equipment costs and offer more
features, hence, building up a flexible services. One of the most recent and
multi-service transport platform (MSTP) remarkable trends is to combine the MPLS,
that integrates both the transport layer and so that the MSTP and MPLS are mutually
the service layer. dependent, as they expand to the network edge
In recent years, the percentage of data together. Once this occurs, then such MPLS
services in the network has been increasing features as, flexible cross-domain data
exponentially. So much so, that now the networking, can be fully utilized.
SDH multi-service platform is evolving speed
from a data-only encapsulation and transmission
transparent transmission mode, to a next- links. For
Challenge and new
generation SDH, and is continuing in example, this development of optical
its development to support data would include such Ethernet
services in a more flexible and links as: point-to-point SDH links,
efficient manner. The latest wavelength channels, and dark fiber Optical Ethernet, which originated from
advancement in telecom applications in OTN. LAN, represents a new type of Ethernet
technologies would include: the integration LCAS defines a way to execute a hitless technology that runs over a bare fiber . In
of a generic frame procedure (GFP), a link adjustment of the bandwidth of the virtual terms of architecture, Ethernet is a type of
capacity adjustment scheme (LCAS) and concatenated payload in the transport end-to-end solution that processes Layer 2
automatic switched optical network (ASON). network, thus allowing the ser vice switching, traffic engineering and service
GFP is a mapping technology that can bandwidth to be adjusted to specifically suit provisioning at each part of the network,
transparently encapsulate various data signals service requirements. Transport of the thus eliminating the need for format
into a universal standard signal structure signaling is carried out by way of SDH NEs conversion at the network edge. In terms of
used in current networks. GFP is a simple and the network management system. With scalability, Ethernet is able to provide
and flexible technology that not only lowers LCAS, effective payload can automatically incremental bandwidth on demand, with a
overhead cost, but produces higher map into usable VCs. This means a contin- granularity of 1 Mbit/s, by changing the flow
efficiency. Other attractive features for why uous adjustment of bandwidth, which policy parameters at the network edge, thus
one would want to use this technology would speeds up bandwidth provisioning, while at expanding the capacity to 10M bit/s, 100M
include its good performance of inter- the same time having no deleterious effect bit/s, 1G bit/s, or even higher. In terms of
operability between vendors, statistical on services. In addition, when failures occur management, Ethernet network
multiplexing of user data, and QoS on the system, the system bandwidth can management is simplified, largely because

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Expert’s Forum
Wei Leping, CTO of China Telecom

the same system can be applied Legacy Ethernet switches to offer multiple services, enjoy some QoS
to each layer of the net- are point-to-point con- and network management capabilities, along
work, thus quicken- nected, and thus with having higher survivability.
ing the pace of new transmission Some Ethernet technologies already have
services into the equipment is the ability to provide 50ms-level fast
market. saved, but the protection switching, have some use of a
In sum- built-in digital wrapper, forward error correction
mary, the Eth- powerful (FEC), as well as synchronization tech-
ernet multi- fault loca- nologies, thus allowing them to improve
service plat- tion capa- overall system performance and span the
form is es- bility and transmission distance. That is to say, some
pecially suited complete new optical Ethernet technologies now
for network performance possess the functions and performance
applications monitoring required by public telecom networks. Except
that mainly capability are for extended and enhanced technologies
deal with IP/ unavailable. such as; Q in Q, and MAC in MAC, which
Ethernet traffic. As a result, Diag- are well-known technologies of legacy
Such a platform can also nosis and trouble- Ethernet, various other standardization
be deployed as an independent IP shooting of faults occurring on organizations have also developed many new
MAN in small to medium-sized cities, which the Ethernet is difficult, especially in optical Ethernet technologies. These would
have heavy IP/Ethernet traffic, or as the access complex and large networks. Legacy include quality improvement & assurance
and convergence layers of the IP MAN in Ethernet relies on spanning tree protocol standards such as; a resilient packet ring
medium to large-sized cities, which also have (STP), as well as rapid spanning tree protocol (RPR), a multi-service ring (MSR), virtual
heavy IP/Ethernet traffic. The core layer in (RSTP), for protection purposes. Such private LAN service (VPLS), optical
the above mentioned applications also protection mechanisms require several Ethernet (OE), and V-Switch. Moreover,
deploys high-end core routers. To date, some seconds, at least, for convergence. In each new technology has unique features.
enhanced new optical Ethernet solutions are addition, it is difficult to transport carrier- In the following discussion RPR and VPLS
being applied to a few metropolitan multi- level voice and data services. And finally, the are introduced, which perhaps are the most
service platforms. costs of the fiber line increases significantly typical optical Ethernet technologies.
Because Ethernet originated from LAN, as network size increases, along with the As an enhanced Ethernet Layer 2
QoS is not an issue for LAN appli- cations. number of nodes. In a word, only after the protocol, RPR can work on SDH, gigabit
However, when Ethernet expands to public problems mentioned above Ethernet, or on bare fibers.
telecom networks, then differen- tial QoS have been resolved, can Currently, the mainstream
and SLA mechanisms will become necessary. Ethernet be consi- application is to apply
Up till now, legacy Ethernet still lacks a dered as a true it over SDH, thus it
reliable mechanism that would guarantee multi-service becomes a built-in
jitter and delay performance in end-to-end platform and intelligent layer
applications, and thus it fails to provide used in large of the new-
standard QoS provisioning network-wide, public telecom generation
for real-time services. It also does not support networks to MSTP.
charge statistics that are required for nodes, provide RPR trans-
or networks shared by multiple users. carrier-level mits IP packets
Second, Ethernet is specifically designed for services. through the
Internal use by LAN users, thus, a security In recent new MAC layer
mechanism is not available. Once Ethernet years, optical into layer 1 of data
reaches out to MAN and WAN, a new and Ethernet has frame, or into bare
more reliable security mechanism will be undergone consi- fibers, thus elimi-
required. Third, the OAM&P of Ethernet derable develop- nating the need of
is weak. This is the case, largely because the ment. Therefore, some of reassembly and assembly
public telecom network has to run and its most recent technical for the pass-through IP packet.
maintain a large number of geographically solutions have been able to resolve most of These pass-through IP packets are directly
separated networks. Hence, strong OAM&P above mentioned problems, or at least, part forwarded, and thus, the process is simplified
ability, network-level management and of them. For instance, Legacy Ethernet and the switching capability is enhanced,
vision, as well as profitable business modes technologies have been immensely improving the performance and flexibility.
are required. Fourth, optical interfaces of improved. As a result, Ethernet is now able Second, RPR features relatively high

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bandwidth utilization for data services. increasing system complexity and costs configuration, and speed up service
Moreover, statistical multiplexing and load accordingly. Second, due to the lack of a provisioning. VPLS can easily identify the
balance mechanisms are available between c r o s s r i n g s t a n d a rd f o r R P R , R P R borderline between the service provider and
the LAN ports of each node. Plus, the layer information cannot cross rings, thus making the customer premise network, for
2 protection mechanism is adopted, thus it difficult for RPR to support complex convenience of management.
making it unnecessary to reserve bandwidth networking topologies. Of course, all these mentioned features
for protection purposes. In addition, MAC However, the combination of RPR and are not free for use: added complexity and
protocol that features destination strip is MPLS can configure the crossring traffic development costs are figured into the overall
used and bandwidth can be reused. flow as the same label switched path (LSP), cost to users, which are partly offset by the
Most thus enabling the interconnecting and end- low-cost advantage of Ethernet.
assuredly, to-end provisioning of traffic among It is expected that with the continued
multiple RPR rings. Also, by increase of IP/Ethernet traffic on the
applying MPLS, traffic network and emergence of Ethernet-based
engineering network-wide is new technologies, that the optical Ethernet
available, thus supporting multi-service platform will become more
space reuse, and providing and more popular in MANs.
guaranteed bandwidth
and end-to-end service
connections, with
The development,
guaranteed QoS. challenge and
This greatly enhances application of 40Gibt/s
the flexible networ-
king of data services, system
while at the same time,
expanding the appli- Thus far, networks have been equipped
cation to complex topo- with the mass 10Gbit/s system and many
logies such as, the mesh telecommunications companies have started
network. to conduct field experiments, using the
VPLS is a multi-point 40Gbit/s system. In network application,
interconnected Layer 2 VPN routers with 10Gbit/s interfaces have
technology that is developed on the basis been widely applied, while those with
with all these enhancements, bandwidth of a point-to-point MPLS. For the user, all 40Gbit/s interfaces are just starting to
utilization of RPR in the mesh traffic mode the nodes look like they are connected to a be employed. In order to improve the
and consolidated traffic mode, considerably dedicated LAN, while for the service efficiency and function of the core network,
exceeds that of the legacy SDH. Even when provider, IP/MPLS infrastructure can be the most reasonable approach would be
compared with the next-generation SDH reused to offer various services. This to develop its single wavelength rate, so that it
that deploys virtual concatenation, RPR still technology is based on MPLS and is transformed into a 40Gbit/s transmission.
enjoys a number of advantages like, finer independent of physical topologies, as well Generally speaking, the main advantages
bandwidth granularity, and statistical as achieving optimized allocation of to adopting a 40Gbit/s transmission are as
multiplexing. Third, RPR can ensure the resources through the traffic engineering of follows. Making use of the transmission
quality of circuit switched services and MPLS. VPLS adopts RPR, instead of STP frequency band more efficiently, so as
private line services, as well as provide 50ms- and RSTP of Ethernet, to offer 50ms-level to achieve higher spectral efficiency.
level fast protection switching. Fourth, RPR fast protection switching. VPLS also Realizing mass commercial use and reduce
has automatic topology discovery and supports a scalable access control list (ACL) the cost for transmission, when the cost
enhanced self-healing capabilities and also at Layers 2/3/4, and the ACL control on a of the 40Gbit/s system is cut down to less
supports plug-and-play. And finally, RPR user basis, thus providing more reliable than 2.5 times that of the 10Gbit/s system,
can not only effectively support two-fiber control and policy mechanisms. VPLS then practical application and mass
bidirectional ring topology, but it can also features good Layer 2 consolidated commercial use will be reasonable. Reducing
support dynamic statistical multiplexing for capability and the quantity of its users the cost and complexity of OAM and
traffic in both directions. exceeds the 4,096 restriction of the the quantity of required spare parts, since
Considering its excellent consolidated VLAN IDs of legacy Ethernet. VPLS four NEs are replaced by only one NE.
features and enhanced data access p r ov i d e s l a ye re d V P L S ( H - V P L S ) Improving the efficiency and function of the
capabilities, RPR is well suited to access layer and improves scalability. VPLS can core network.
applications of MAN. However, RPR distinguish and guarantee the different traffic However, the transmission rate of a single
requires the addition of a MAC layer, thus of users, simplify network ser vice wavelength can be restricted by the

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Wei Leping, CTO of China Telecom

migration ratio of IC materialís electrons and

holes, transmission media dispersion,
polarization mode dispersion (PMD), and
the cost performance of an application
system. At present, IC material is no longer
a key restriction, but the other three factors
have created a bottleneck for the utility of
such a transmission rate.
As far as its practical application, the
40Gbit/s transmission system also faces some
challenges. The external modulator must be
adopted. The driving integrated circuit that can
output sufficient voltage to drive the eternal
modulator is not advanced enough. NRZ rate. This means that the transmission extended, from the current 600 km, to over
modulation has been used for years, but it is hard distance will be reduced to one sixteenth of 2000 km. In such a case, then the WDM
to tell whether or not it can work efficiently a 10Gbit/s system, thus the second order system’s main enabling technologies
and reliably with the 40Gbit/s system. At PMD will have greater impact. Whether or would need to include: distributed
least, the long-haul transmission is difficult not the PMD attribute is compatible with Raman amplifier, FEC (Forward Error
in this system, so it is inevitable to turn to the long-distance transmission in the Correction), dispersion management
better RZ code or other modulation 40Gbit/s system still needs to be verified, technology, strict optical equalization
methods with even higher efficiency, such by carrying out a large-scale field test. technology, and a high-efficiency modula-
as CS-RZ code, DPSK-RZ code, CRZ code, However, as for short-distance trans- tion format.
super CRZ code, D-RZ code, pseudo-linear mission, since the dispersion compensation, Generally speaking, the main advantages
RZ code, soliton modulation and so on. optical amplifier and external modulator are of laying the ULH (ultra-long haul) WDM
Besides technical factors, the economy is not needed, then the 40Gbit/s system is able system are as follows. It can reduce the
also a crucial factor that must be taken into to provide the lowest cost per bit. Hence, system cost and signal delay, simplify the
consideration. From past experience, we know the problems mentioned above no longer provisioning of a high speed circuit, and
that the 40Gbit/s system can achieve mass p re s e n t a n y o b s t a c l e s . Fi r s t , It i s speed up the ser vice supply, with
application, only when the cost is 2.5 times recommended to start the 40Gbit/s system considerable decrease of electrical
less that of the 10Gbit/s system to run. Thus, with the application of short-distance regenerative repeaters. Guarantee highest
in theory, the ideal application for the 40Gbit/s interconnection, which includes the bandwidth efficiency, with the realization of
system is still in a long-distance network, interconnection between routers, switches traffic grooming on the edge of the core
simply because it requires the largest capacity and transmission equipment in the local network. Reduce operation and
and lowest bit transmission cost. exchange, and then it can be extended to maintenance costs of the network, with
In China’s backbone networks, however, apply to the MAN-range, and finally, to considerable decrease of electrical
fiber utilization is less than 30% and SDH relatively long, long-distance application. regenerative repeaters. Reduce network
circuit utilization is less than 50%, although upgrade costs and simplify the networking
channel utilization has exceeded 70%, The development of the structure, with a further improvement in the
primarily due to large-scale construction in ULH WDM System transparency of networks. Thus, the
evolution towards to a mesh network is also
the past few years. Therefore, only expansion
in WDM application is needed, for the In recent years, along with the many made easier.
general capacity of the optical cable network technical breakthroughs that have been A t p re s e n t , U L H t e c h n o l o g y i s
reveals a surplus, and so there is no occurring, as well as with the economic boost completely developed and it has
immediate need to upgrade the whole that the market has been experiencing, some practical network applications.
network to 40Gbit/s. has also been the rapid development of the However, only a few countries or regions
Another key factor is the polarization WDM system. Up till now, the 1.6Tbit/s are in need of such a ULH circuit for long-
mode dispersion (PMD) of optical cable. WDM system has been in large-scale distance transmission, so its application
It is said that the PMD attribute of the cable commercial use. In order to decrease scale is limited. As a result, equipment
network in China, except through a few the number of electrical regeneration points, costs are higher, largely, for a lack of being
routes, is still able to get by with using the cut down initial costs and operation able to take advantage of mass production,
current 10Gbit/s transmission costs, improve system reliability and cope which also means that the total cost of
system. However, when the rate goes up to with increasingly longer traffic drop running the network is not as cheap as
40Gbit/s, the transmission distance that is termination distance of IP service, then the expected. Hence, to some extent, the cost
limited by PMD, will be reduced in inverse all-optical transmission distance of the also affects the application of ULH
proportion to the square of the transmission WDM system will also have to be greatly technology.

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The development of the Such features help to lower laser specification appear that CWDM has a very bright future
requirements, and thus, reduce laser costs. in China’s MAN development.
Metropolitan CWDM In addition, the CWDM system has a very
technology low requirement in regards to laser From point-to-point WDM
wavelength precision, hence, no cooler or
wavelength locker is needed. In this instance, transmission to ASON
Along with the development of
technology and service, WDM technology laser features not only help to low power
is also expanding, from long-distance consumption, but its size will also be very Although the ordinary point-to-point
transmission, to the metropolitan area small. Furthermore, because such a laser can WDM communication system provides huge
network (MAN). Since MAN transmission be packaged with a simple coaxial structure, transmission capacity, it offers only primitive
distance is usually shorter than 100 km, the its packaging cost is lower than traditional transmission bandwidth. Flexible nodes are
external modulator and optical amplifier that dish-shaped packaging. In total, the laser needed to realize highly efficient and flexible
must be used in the long-distance network may module cost can be reduced by as much as networking. However, due to the complexity
not be adopted here. The increase and ex- two-thirds. As for the filter, the typical of the current electrical DXC (digital cross
pansion of the wavelength number will no longer dielectric thin film filter, with 100 GHz connect) system, its node capacity cannot
be restricted by the frequency band of the intervals, needs 150 layers of film plating, keep pace with the increase of network
optical amplifier. Moreover, it is acceptable while the CWDM filter, with 20 nm transmission link capacity. As a result,
to use the optical source, multiplexer, intervals, only needs 50 layers. Therefore, further capacity expansion relies on optical
demultiplexer, and nodes, that is OADM
other components, (optical add/drop
with comparatively multiplexer) and OXC
broader wavelength
interval and lower
The cost of components, as well as the (optic cross connect).
OXC falls into two
demands for
wavelength pre-
whole system will be greatly reduced. categories regarding
technological imple-
cision and stability. mentation: one is imple-
Thus, the cost of mented with an electrical
components, as well as the whole system will the product yields of the CWDM filter can cross connect matrix, which is sometimes
be greatly reduced, for all the above reasons. be greatly improved, with an estimated cost abbreviated as, OEO, or electrical OXC; the
Although the cost of the metropolitan cut, of at least 50%. other is implemented with a pure optical
WDM system is markedly lower, than that In a word, the CWDM system has much cross connect matrix and is sometimes
for the long-distance WDM network, lower requirements than the DWDM abbreviated as, OOO, or all-optical OXC.
however, its total cost is still relatively high system in regards to laser output power, The former (electrical OXC) can easily
when compared with similar technologies temperature susceptibility, dispersion make signal quality supervision and
that are presently available. In particular, tolerance, and even laser packaging. Also, eliminate transmission impairment, and its
when the transmission distance is so long with low requirement on the filter, the features come at a low cost, if providing
that an optical amplifier is required, then it system cost is expected to drop considerably. relatively small capacity, and it is also
becomes necessary to develop a low cost In particular, the 8-wavelength CWDM compatible with current transmission link
optical amplifier. Currently, few customers system has an optical spectrum, avoiding the technology. Above all, electrical OXC can
and applications apply the whole wave- OH absorption peak, which is near 1385 process and allocate bandwidths that are
length bandwidth on the network edge. nm, and is applicable to any kind of optical smaller than a whole wavelength, and
Furthermore, the WDM multi-service fiber, so it will most likely be put into therefore, is able to meet current market
platform is mainly applicable to the core practice first. capacity requirements. However, the
layer, especially to those applications which In regards to service application, the capacity expansion of electrical OXC still
have large capacity expansion demand and CWDM transceiver has been applied in relies on the continuous improvement of
long transmission distance. conjunction with the GBIC (gigabit semiconductor chip density and
The concept of coarse wavelength interface converter) and SFP (small form- performance, which has not been able to
division multiplexing (CWDM) has factor pluggable), and can be directly keep pace with the increase of network
emerged in response to demands to further inserted in the gigabit Ethernet switch and transmission link capacity.
reduce the cost of operating the metropolitan fiber channel switch. The CWDM In regards to the latter (all-optical OXC),
WDM multi-service platform. This kind of transceiver offers smaller size, lower power first, it does not need the O/E conversion
system has three typical wavelength consumption and lower cost, than the process, thus a large number of O/E
combinations: 4, 8 and 16 wavelengths, with related DWDM device. Obviously, when conversion interfaces are saved. Also, thanks
up to 20 nm wavelength channel intervals, one considers such factors as service to the removal of the bandwidth bottleneck,
and ±6.5nm allowance of wavelength drift. demands and lower cost, then it would all-optical OXC capacity is expected to

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Wei Leping, CTO of China Telecom

expand significantly in the near future. leasing, leveled bandwidth service, dynamic plane, its standards are almost at an advanced
Hence, the transparency that also comes wavelength allocation and leasing, dynamic enough stage that it will probably not be long
with having a huge capacity, will be able to route allocation, and OVPN (optical virtual before, it too, will be put in to practical use.
support a variety of client-layer signals, and private network). OIF UNI 1.0 is mature enough and multi-
its low power consumption promises to have Having been attracted by all the above ve n d o r s i n t e r o p e r a b i l i t y h a s b e e n
a long technical life. However, the band- mentioned advantages, such world-class demonstrated. As for UNI2.0, its common
width of all-optical OXC equipment must telecom operators as, AT&T, BT and NTT, features and RSVP signaling section are
equal at least a whole wavelength, so that have now successfully introduced OXC and expected to be finished close to the
such bandwidth can be operable, which when ASON into their networks. As a result, beginning of 2006. I-NII interface needed
viewed at economically, needs much more AT&T has now been able to simplify its not be standardized. E-NNI 1.0 is intended
consideration. Second, the existing trans- to fulfill networking within the network
mission link may need to be reconstructed which is composed of different vendors, but
in order to accommodate all-optical switch run by the same operator. Currently the
application. Third, it is difficult to achieve signaling section is mature, routing section
performance monitoring in the optical area. is close to mature and automatic discovery
Fourth, the transmission link connecting all- section will take some time to fulfil. From
optical switches is composed of a series of equa- the standpoint of management plane, the
lized optical amplifiers, which makes it diffi- ASON network management function is
cult to perform quick and dynamic wave- weakened, due to introduction of control
length routing in a finely equalized mesh network. function. Therefore, some functions have
And finally, all-optical network coverage now been transferred to the standards con-
is limited, due to the non-linear impairment trol process. In the long run, this will benefit
of dispersion. Thus, when one considers all different manufacturers in regards to inter-
these factors, especially an inadequate connectivity, but it is not believed that this will
demand for capacity to be flexibly allocated pose a major restriction on ASON application.
by the network, then this tends to hamper Over the past decade in China, the
the development of an all-optical OXC. development of optical communications has
Notwithstanding, rare applications of an all- always been spurred by the expansion of
optical OXC have been seen in a few places point-to-point link capacity. However, in
around the world. However, it is not too networking structure, which has not only recent years, highly dynamic IP traffic and
difficult to believe, that with the continuing resulted in greater efficiency of bandwidth private line service have been experiencing
development of network capacity and utilization, but has also helped to lower its rapid, steady development, and the network
increasing demand for better-quality initial cost by 50%, and its operation cost has been providing a relatively huge capacity
network services, that the application of the by as much as 60% (through simplified for users. In addition, competition has also
all-optical OXC will experience more planning, provisioning and maintenance). become fiercer, so the development from a
worldwide acceptance in several years. As network signaling and routing are transport network, to the dynamic ASON
With the continuous consolidation of involved in ASON, it is very important to network, has now been put on the
network traffic to dynamic IP traffic, also have a unified standard. Theoretically, there forthcoming agenda. To construct a highly
comes the requirement for a more flexible is little conflict between the three flexible, dynamic and reliable transport net-
and dynamic optical network. The latest standardization organizations (ITU, IETF work, which offers a huge capacity, is a key
trend is to introduce ASON (automatic and OIF) that are currently operating, each step in the transformation of China’s trans-
switched optical network), so as to replace within its own specific field. But in point-of- port network, and also is considered to be a signi-
static optical interworking, with dynamic fact, conflicts do sometimes occur in regards ficant project in China’s network development.
optical interworking. The advantages of such to detailed technical issues and specific
a replacement are as follows. Network choices, due to such factors as, technical, cul- Development and
resources can be dynamically allocated to tural and political diversity. Thus, a greater
routes, and the capacity expansion time in degree of time and effort will be required before prospect of FTTH
the service layer is shortened. Services can better coordination between them improves. technologies
be provided and extended very quickly. Both From the standpoint of transport plane,
initial construction cost and operation cost the OEO hardware switching platform is There are two options in making FTTH
of the network are lowered. The optical layer already at an advanced enough level to be technologies become a reality: a point-to-
is capable of restoring services very quickly. put into commercial use, while the OOO point active Ethernet and a point-to-
The demand for supporting system software hardware switching platform has yet to be multipoint passive optical network.
is lessened. The chance of human error is practically tested for its reliability; The advantages of having an active
also lessened. New wavelength services can principally, because it has a strict bandwidth Ethernet include: The bandwidth is
be introduced, such as bandwidth on requirement and lacks capacity demand. guaranteed through dedicated access. The
demand, wavelength wholesale, wavelength Nevertheless, from the standpoint of control equipment is simple and cheap. The

7 SEPT 2005 ˙ ISSUE 18

Huawei Technologies

transmission distance is long. The cost is (PON), while replacing the data link layer those provided by EPON. Nevertheless, the
suitable, depending on the number of users protocol (ATM), with Ethernet. Thus, EPON EPON network management system is
(direct proportion). There is low investment can provide services with broader band- greatly improved compared to ordinary
risk and a high efficiency of port utilization, width, lower cost, and a wider service range. Ethernet, and can meet the basic
so the cost is low in areas of low user density. The basic features of EPON technology management requirements.
The disadvantages of having an active include: ATM and SDH layers are removed, Generally speaking, GPON is an
Ethernet include: Users cannot share end so that initial cost and operation cost are operator-driven standard. Therefore,
office equipment and optical fibers, because both lowered. A large quantity of advanced operators’ benefits are given more
they are for dedicated use.Therefore, active Ethernet chips can be easily applied, while consideration. It features a higher and more
Ethernet is not suitable in areas of high user the cost remains very low. It provides several flexible bit rate. Its generic mapping format
density. Active Ethernet requires a multi- security mechanisms such as, VLAN, CUG can be applied to any existing or newly
point power supply and standby power (closed user group), and VPN. formed services. Its OAM&P function is very
source, which makes power supplying and In 2001, when the IEEE was devising rich and transmission efficiency to all sorts of
network management very complex. There EPON standards, FSAN was also starting services, even including the TDM service, is high.
is no unified standard for active Ethernet, to devise GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Thus, it is only natural to assume that
so compatibility issues arise. Network) standards. Soon after, ITU-T also GPON may become the final solution that
The advantages of a passive optical participated in the development of GPON, will allow operatorsí to execute a smooth
network include: First, passive optical and passed two GPON standards in 2003, transition, from their old traditional TDM,
network is a pure media network, which the G.984.1 and G.984.2., respectively. to the more current all-IP network.
avoids impacts caused by electromagnetic When compared with EPON, GPON offers Apart from system technologies, FTTH
interference or lightning. Fault rate is a few advantages. First, according to the also involves active/passive optical
lessened, bandwidth bottleneck is removed, latest standards, GPON can now provide a components, fiber-optic cable technology,
reliability is improved, and maintenance cost 2.488 Gbit/s downlink bit rate, as well as connection technology, laying technology,
is cut. Second, passive optical network has several standard uplink bit rates. GPON can test technology, network management
good trans- technology, and
parency and wide so on. However,
bandwidth. It is breakthroughs
applicable to GPON will allow operators to execute a in these areas are
signals of any required. Hence,
format and any smooth transition, from their old traditional any bottleneck
bit rate. It also in these tech-
supports triple-
TDM, to the more current all-IP network. nologies, cost
and operation
play services. may hamper the
Third, users share end office equipment and transmit for at least 20 km, with the split ratio large-scale development of FTTH.
optical fibers, so the cost is relatively low, of 1:16, 1:32, 1:64 and even 1:128. There- Therefore, FTTx, and especially FTTH, still
with shorter distance of optical fiber, and fore, GPON is superior to EPON in terms of require lots of fundamental work and R&D
less transmitting and receiving equipment. the bit rate it can provide, bit rate flexibility, before these technologies become fully
The marginal cost per user drops sharply, transmission distance and split ratio. Second, applicable. Although recently the price of
so a passive optical network is suitable in GPON applies two adaptation methods, FTTH equipment has dropped
areas of low user density (as opposed to each which includes the traditional ATM and considerably, the price of EPON still
area, where there are sub-areas with relatively standard GFP (Generic Framing Procedure). remains at about $300 per user for triple play
high user density). Last, passive optical GFP can encapsulate all sorts of signals service, which is many times more than
network is well standardized. into the existing SDH network with ADSL. There are still high risks involved
In a passive optical network, the considerable flexibly and efficiently. It can where video services are concerned, largely
technology that should be used for layer 2 be applied to different types of signal format due to uncertain policies and an
has not been determined yet. A few years or transmission standards. Third, GPON is unpredictable market. As a result, China is
ago, the ATM-based APON was believed to capable of flexibly supporting TDM voice not quite ready for any large-scale
be a good solution, but its use finally faded service, because the GPON convergent layer commercial use of FTTH, for it is still in
out, due to its high cost, limited service is essentially synchronous. In contrast, the early stages of undergoing field testing
capacity, low bit rate, low efficiency and the EPON has no specific standard on TDM and commercial trail. As the 2008 Olympic
decline of ATM technology itself. However, voice, so consequently, manufacturers Games and 2010 World Expo draw closer,
more recently, with the emergence and operate, each in their own way, which leads so will the practical use of FTTH in China.
development of IP technology, the concept to poor interoperability and uncertain FTTH is no longer considered to be too lofty
of EPON has been brought forward. With performance. Fourth, GPON has an a goal to achieve, but with continued
a structure similar to APON, and based on abundant number of network management patience and proper preparation the road to
G.983, EPON keeps APON’s physical layer functions, which are considerably more than success may be just around the corner.

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