Fiber Technology Races to Keep up with Demand for More &

– New Broadcom Chips Increase Speeds to Coax & Copper Wire
Cabinets in the Neighborhood or MDU
– Less Power & Support for Older Fiber Technology, Too
– Aimed at Booming Asian Markets, but Will Have Global Appeal

Technology developments in broadband (and home networking) are
continuing faster than expected by most industry followers.
Without broadband and home networking — plus video compression
— the Internet would mainly be used for simple e-mails,
texting and browsing to very plain Web pages. There would be
no richness, no OTT and very little shopping without them.

– DOCSIS 3.0 is now being used by cablecos such as Comcast to
provide speeds of up to 100 Mbps. Tests have shown that DOCIS
3.0 is capable of speeds up to 1 Gbps.

– Telcos, under the supervision of the International
Telecommunications Union (ITU), are developing technology
called that will let them offer speeds of 500 Mbps to 1
Gbps over their existing fiber/twisted copper pair networks.
They are promising self-installs and no new trenching within
the neighborhood.

Fiber all the way to the home, except perhaps in MDUs, has
proven too costly for telcos and cablecos, with deployment
costs in the $2,000 to $4,000 range per residence. The most
sensible solution is proving to be fiber to a distribution
cabinet in the neighborhood or at the MDU with coax or copper
wire from the cabinet to the residence. It appears that fiber
all the way to the home is too pricey for most service
providers to deploy except, perhaps, in new neighborhoods and

In all cases, whether telco or cableco broadband, the magic is
in the fiber to the distribution cabinet. Fiber is far and
away the fastest wireline technology of them all — and it’s
getting faster. More residences are being connected to the
cabinet and consumers are demanding more speed for OTT

Broadcom has developed new chips that will increase its speed
— and over existing fiber infrastructure, whether to the home,
MDU or to a cabinet in the network that uses coax or twisted
copper wires to the home. The faster the speed is to the
cabinet, the faster the speed can be over the final meters to
the home, thus the more residences that can be simultaneously
connected to the cabinet that’s in the neighborhood or MDU.

There are three new products:
– The BCM553x goes in the equipment that’s in the fiber gear
that’s in the service providers’ central office
– The BCM88350 goes in the cabinet
– The low-power, small-footprint BCM55030 is in the end
devices such as an optical network unit (ONU) that is
installed in or outside the home in a fiber-to-the-home

Barry Gray, senior product line manager at Broadcom, said the
chips are intended for use in products that both telcos and
cablecos use in their all-fiber or hybrid-fiber networks. They
enable fiber optic equipment makers to get to market quicker
with products that use less power and cost less per port than
prior fiber equipment.

The master chip — the one that’s in the central office’s gear
— can simultaneously support both 10 Gbps (10G) symmetric
(same speed up and down) and asymmetric (different speeds up
and down) data rates and 1 Gbps (1G) on the same fiber.

Cellular services will use the technology for backhaul,
getting signals to and from each cell to the main telephone

The Asia Connection (Mostly China)
There’s no doubt that Broadcom is especially aiming the chips
at the Asian markets, especially China, where most people
reside in MDUs of various capacities. Service providers in
China almost always run fiber to the MDU because they want to
deliver the fastest speeds possible over the fiber network
that connects to the MDU. The Chinese government regulatory
agency has mandated that networks must support a minimum of 20
Mbps per residence. At that speed in the home, a 10 Gbps
network node could support 512 residences. In fact, the number
is even higher, perhaps as many as 1,000 residences per node
because of load leveling and the unlikelihood that every
subscriber will be using the maximum bandwidth at the same

Broadcom makes three chips that each simultaneously supports
multiple fiber networks: two, four and eight. The eight
network model can simultaneously support 4,000 subscribers.

Broadcom quotes industry numbers that show that FTTx, fiber-
to-the-node at an MDU and fiber-to-the-residence, will connect
50% of China’s broadband subscribers by 2016.

Jeff Heynen, directing analyst of broadband access and video
at Infonetics Research, got in a plug for the Asian markets
for fiber. He said, “In the Asia Pacific region and especially
in China, major operators [both cablecos and telcos] are
investing in heavily in EPON, a trend we expect to continue
throughout 2015. As focus increases on introducing subscribers
to the new infrastructure, scalable and flexible 10G EPON OLT
solutions such as Broadcom’s BCM5553x series of SoCs will play
an important role in increasing adoption rates over the next
three years.”

Greg Fischer, VP and general manager at Broadcom said content
consumption, especially video, is driving traffic growth and
service providers must meet increasing demand for higher
bandwidth to more subscribers. He said the new chips enable “a
new class of services previously unavailable via other forms
of broadband and creating revenue-generating services for
global telco and cable multi-service operators while reducing
both capital and operating expenses.”

Several years ago Broadcom acquired a company that was working
with the cablecos’ technology developer CableLabs to develop a
technology called DPoE, which allows DOCSIS to operate over
fiber. Needless to say, Broadcom’s new chips support that
standard as well as two IEEE standards and one from China
Telecom. See the Chinese connection?

The chips are immediately available, but Broadcom would or
could not say when equipment with the chips will start

The Connection
Most of the world’s major telcos are working with chip and
equipment makers to develop a faster broadband technology for
the telcos copper wires called equipment is
expected to be on the market in 2014, which gives the telcos
time to get their infrastructure ready for it.

Most of the current DSL technologies require the neighborhood
distribution box to be with 400-700 meters of the home in
residential areas with standalone homes. is being
developed to have the same speed potential as DOCSIS 3.0,
which will allow the telcos to a) compete against the cablecos
on a more level playing field and b) meet the broadband speeds
that government regulators are demanding. It also has about
the same speed potential as fiber-to-the-home, but does not
require trenches to be dug or wires to be hung for the final
connection to the home.

However! does require that the distribution cabinet be
located within 200 meters of the home. If the average distance
is now 700 or more meters, then the telcos will have to start
installing many more distribution cabinets. Broadcom is
hoping, of course, that they will all have its speedy new EPON

Home Network Speeds Keeping up with Broadband
Connecting from the external network to the residence in the
MDU may be fiber, copper wires from a telco, coax or even
Ethernet wiring. Chipmakers Broadcom, Qualcomm Atheros and
Entropic are enjoying a boom in sales with home network chips
that operate over the run from the MDU’s connection to the
fiber network. Marvell and Sigma Designs, potential makers of chips, have made several sales trips to Asia to pursue
the same market opportunity.

Tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, gaming consoles and other
smart devices for consumers are increasing the demand for
higher broadband and home networking. Home networks are being
speeded up to handle the increased broadband speeds. New
versions of both MoCA and HomePlug are being readied for
faster wireline speeds within the home. Wi-Fi chipmakers are
beginning to ship the new 11ac version, which promises speeds
3x faster than the existing 11n. The 11ac chips will, within
months, start appearing in tablets and smartphones. You can
only imagine the demand for 11ac routers, if and when Apple
launches an iOS device with 11ac Wi-Fi.

About the Author

The Online Reporter is the weekly subscription-based strategy bulletin about the enabling technologies of broadband, Wi-Fi, HDR, home networks, UHD 4K TV & OTT services; identifying trends in the Digital Media space. Only a fraction of our material here is published here. To see 4 free copies, follow the links above or go to

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