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Openreach successfully trials next-gen '25G PON' fibre tech

Isolated trials by Openreach and Nokia more than double existing maximum data transfer rates

Openreach has said it has successfully completed a test of a next-gen fibre technology that promises to more than double maximum network speeds.

The trial, conducted at an Openreach testing facility in Ipswich, aimed to determine whether the new type of passive optical network (PON), dubbed 25G PON, can work seamlessly alongside existing full-fibre network infrastructure.

The technologies already embedded in Openreach’s network are known as GPON and XGS-PON, delivering speeds of up to 1Gbits/sec and 10Gbits/sec respectively. 25G PON, pioneered by Nokia, delivers speeds of up to 25 Gbits/sec across a single optical fibre cable.

The benefits, which include more than double the maximum data transfer rates, will mostly be felt by large enterprises, 5G-based transport networks, and major industrial players.

Versus XGS-PON, 25G PON is designed to provide the bandwidth required to maintain many connected devices, especially when there’s a high density of 5G small cells present, which may otherwise hamper performance and lead to problems with connectivity. Nokia has also claimed that 25G PON will help satisfy the growing reliance on high-bandwidth connectivity by large-scale enterprises, which is set to explode in the coming years.

Openreach has stepped in at this stage to trial whether Nokia’s technology can be laid alongside the fibre infrastructure that already exists, so that businesses would be able to tap into speeds of up to 25Gbits/sec like any other internet package. Nokia said the fibre tech can even be used to build out 5G networks, with smaller cells required in areas of dense traffic.

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If it sees deployment, the technology will be able to provide a much wider range of speeds and business-oriented services for Openreach partners like BT, Sky, TalkTalk, and Vodafone.

“As the country’s largest digital infrastructure provider, it’s crucial that we continue to plan, innovate and evolve our network, to make sure we have the capacity and capabilities that the UK needs in the future,” said Openreach’s director for networking technology, Peter Bell.

“The Full Fibre network we’re building today is going to be the platform for the UK’s economic, social and environmental prosperity, and these trials prove that we can keep upgrading the speeds and services our customers experience over that network for decades to come.”

Having tested the 25G PON technology at Openreach’s Adastral Park lab, the two companies will launch a field trial by the end of 2021, with tests involving a range of bandwidth-hungry applications.

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