Strategy Analytics tips telecoms to catch 50G fever in 2023

Strategy Analytics answered the question of what it believes will follow 10G as the next generation of passive optical networking (PON) technology, predicting operators will skip a step up to 25G and make the leap straight to 50G starting in 2023.

With 10G deployments now mainstream and rapidly growing, vendors and operators have been placing their bets on what’s next. Some, including members of the 25GS-PON Multi-Source Agreement (MSA) Group have backed 25G as the next logical transition, with Nokia notably building 25G capabilities into its multi-PON line card and pitching it as a “non-disruptive upgrade” to 10G.

But according to a new Strategy Analytics report, it will be 50G that supplants 10G. The firm’s Senior Analyst and report author Dan Grossman told Fierce there are a variety of reasons why 50G is its pick, but it boils down to the fact that there’s “a broad industry consensus that a two-and-a-half times step isn’t really significant enough.” Though some operators may roll out 25G to address a narrow range of applications, it is not expected to achieve widespread use, Grossman added in the report.

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The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recently standardized 50G. Given that, Grossman told Fierce he expects to start seeing 50G product announcements from vendors in 2023, with operator lab trials kicking off late that year and continuing into early 2024. Field trials and controlled introduction are set to follow, with mass deployments expected by 2026.

In terms of 50G use cases, Grossman wrote in the report it will “see significant deployment in 5G mid-haul, enterprise, industry vertical applications, some MDU scenarios, high split ratio scenarios and in the metro edge network. These are high-value applications, with low volume (as compared with FTTH) and as a result, 50G PON equipment will not come under the kind of pricing pressure that its predecessors did.”

Looking even further ahead, Grossman noted the next generation beyond 50G is expected to achieve widespread adoption by 2033, with PON technologies for 100G, 200G and even higher currently in the research phase. Which of these is ultimately win out will come down to “what can be achieved in a cost-effective fashion in that timeframe,” he concluded.