2Introduction to Fiber Optic Broadband Access Networks and Technologies

2.1 Introduction

Telephone companies and community access television (CATV) providers (also called “cable” providers) are competing to offer subscribers the triple play services of voice, video, and high-speed data access. Historically, both telephone and CATV networks have relied on copper cables to connect through the last mile to their subscribers, but a coaxial cable of the CATV companies has superior bandwidth capabilities relative to the twisted pair wiring from telephone companies. However, the coaxial cable must be shared by many subscribers in order to be economical. Clearly, the most flexible and future-proof medium is fiber optic, with its virtually unlimited bandwidth availability. For telephone network providers, fiber connections are attractive as the key to leapfrogging the capabilities of CATV providers. In response, CATV providers are also beginning to deploy all-fiber networks for enterprise customers and are considering it for residential customers.

Because providing a direct optical connection between the telephone company central office (CO)1 and each subscriber is cost prohibitive in terms of cost, most optical access systems share a passive optical network (PON) among multiple subscribers. PON standards and technology are the focus of this section of the book. The section begins with a brief history of fiber optics in access systems, including early PON systems. This chapter also ...

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