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Who's Growing a GPON?

Faster gear for passive optical networking (PON) may be in the works for at least one major respondent to the recently released RBOC "Fiber to the X" RFP (see RBOCs Hungry for Fiber) and A Closer Look at PON Econ).

According to reliable industry sources, who've asked not to be named, Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) is at work on gigabit passive optical networking (GPON) technology, a super high-speed network that uses a combination of passive optical components and Sonet framing.

GPON technology would be used to extend cheap fiber links within metro networks (see ILECs' Missing Links ). No one is yet suggesting GPONs for residential fiber.

Specifically, Alcatel is said to be interested in creating a GPON for backhauling traffic to the central office in metro networks -- mainly as a way to address carriers' growing demands to replace old private lines with newer, faster services, such as IP SAN extensions.

Alcatel won't confirm any work on GPON, even though word has it the vendor's touted GPON in analyst forums recently. A spokeswoman says research is always afoot on new technologies, but she insists the direction Alcatel's taking for the foreseeable future is in BPON, or broadband PON.

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