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OPLIN 4Cast #293: Google Fiber and GPON

Posted in 4cast

OK, no doubt about it, the Google Fiber project in Kansas City is pretty cool. So cool that there’s a ton of articles on the Internet about it right now. So why talk about it again in the 4cast? Because there’s some cool technical stuff going on in the background that few of the news articles have mentioned. Google is essentially putting dedicated fiber strands in every customer’s house, which is different from the current Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology used by many telcos to provide shared, on-demand, high-speed Internet service to homes.

  • Dan O’Connell: FTTH not just a Verizon thing (interview with Cable360)  “Various FTTH [fiber to the home] technology solutions present alternatives in this regard on such issues as building out shared vs. dedicated plant, offering gigabit capacity today vs. something less now until gigabit service levels are demanded to support common applications and so forth. Providers also have to weigh the pros and cons of maintaining active electronics in the field vs. operating a passive network, vis a vis the services or bandwidth capabilities those respective solutions may allow them to deliver, and the operational considerations of supporting those respective designs.”
  • The future requires fiber (Verizon PolicyBlog/John Czwartacki)  “With a GPON architecture, Verizon’s FiOS speed is only a matter of demand. If consumers demanded faster, we could deliver faster. And soon enough, they will. With innovators like Google joining us in our propagation of ultra fast broadband, it’s only a matter of time when some American developer creates an application that requires the use of one gig or more of bandwidth.”
  • Google Fiber – Less Filling (cost) Tastes Great (more bandwidth)? (Technology Directions by Wesley Kaplow)  “Any service, virtually no matter the technology, has aggregation points. With GPON technology the concentration point is at the Optical Line Termination equipment (OLT). […] Also at the OLT is the amount of uplink bandwidth from the OLT to the Internet. In general there are one to four 10Gbps uplink connections. So, in the best case there are 40Gbps to spread over the hundreds of customers connected to the OLT.”
  • A construction update (Google Fiber Blog/John Toccalino)  “As you can see, we’ll be routing fiber connection into Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO through several equipment aggregator huts, aka ‘Google Fiber Huts.’ From the Google Fiber Huts, the fiber cables will travel along utility poles into neighborhoods and homes. The benefit of this model is simple: every home that has Google Fiber service will have their very own fiber-optic cable that directly connects all the way back to the Internet backbone.”

OPLIN fact:
Somewhat like Google on a bigger scale, the statewide OPLIN network provides dedicated, symmetric circuits capable of either Fast Ethernet (100Mbps) or Gigabit Ethernet to most libraries. To control costs, however, we also carefully watch the demand from the library and ask the telco to restrict each connection – and their bill – to the amount of bandwidth the library actually needs.