While the use of passive optical network (PON) technology for mobile backhaul isn’t new, Julie Kunstler, principal analyst at Ovum, suggests that the evolution through 3G, 4G LTE, and small cells will make the FTTx technology even more appealing for such applications. The result could be a market opportunity on the scale of $1 billion, she predicts.
“PON is an excellent fit for mobile backhaul traffic, especially for macrocells and small cells located in or near urban areas,” Kunstler says. “Significant amounts of mobile traffic are created in urban areas, such as train stations, shopping centers, and cultural and sporting events. Typically FTTx networks are deployed first in urban areas.”
Communications services providers (CSPs) who deployed PON with business customers in mind will likely make the leap first, if they haven’t already. And more fiber-optic network builders likely will follow this lead, Kunstler believes.
“Today, given the costs of building the fiber network, more and more CSPs are planning their FTTx around mixed services, including FTTH, fiber to the enterprises, and mobile data backhaul,” she says. From a technical perspective, PON is a superb fit for mobile backhaul. PON component and equipment vendors have added essential timing synchronization functions to meet the stringent timing requirements of wireless networks.”
Such PON systems vendors could see a significant return on their R&D investments, Kunstler believes. “From a total addressable market perspective, the growth in public carrier small cells could represent a $1 billion market for PON component and equipment vendors,” she explains. “Governments should welcome this market application for PON as it will accelerate network monetization, encouraging CSPs to accelerate FTTx network deployments.”