Proximus claims world’s fastest live fibre network with Nokia PON

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The Belgian city Antwerp has its many attractions, including what is said to be a ground-breaking step in the world of communications with the unveiling by Proximus of a network with a speed that exceeds 20 Gbps, the fastest fibre access network in the world.

The leading Belgian operator made the launch through a partnership with comms tech provider Nokia. Operating over existing fibre and Nokia equipment deployed in the Proximus network, the first ever 25G passive optical network (PON) live network connects the Havenhuis building in the Port of Antwerp with the Proximus central office in the middle of the city.

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The new deployment is part of the inspire 2022 vision of Proximus to maintain its “status as the leading provider of fixed broadband networks in Belgium”, with 45.9% market share.

The operator is accelerating the move to fibre, adding 10% coverage each year, and is on target to reach at least 70% of homes and business by 2028. As part of the strategy, the operator notes that it is creating a high capacity open network which will be available to all operators, “eliminating the need for fibre overbuild”.

“The activation of the first 25G PON network worldwide shapes our bold ambition to be a trendsetter, to become a reference operator in Europe and the globe,” said Proximus CEO Guillaume Boutin.

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“Together with Nokia, we have achieved a technological leap forward that will become a key enabler of the digital and economy and society that we stand for. Today’s announcement is also an occasion to stand still and look at the pace at which we connect the citizens of Antwerp to the technology of the future.

“Thanks to huge investments, we are realising an acceleration that is unseen in Europe, and I am convinced this will be crucial to remain competitive for us as a company, but also for Antwerp as a city and for our entire economy.”

Assessing the ramifications of the launch, Rupert Wood, research director for fibre networks at research firm Analysys Mason, said the 25G PON achievement demonstrated the unlimited potential of fibre.

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“This next evolution in fibre technology will provide enterprises with greater than 10 Gbps connectivity and the capacity needed to support 5G transport along with future next-generation services, such as massive scale virtual reality and real time digital twins,” he said.

Nokia’s solution utilises 25GS-PON technology that includes Lightspan access nodes – high-capacity access nodes for massive scale fibre roll-outs – as well as 25G/10G optical cards and fibre modems. Typically located in telecom central offices, Lightspan nodes see use in connecting up to thousands of users via optical fibre, aggregate their broadband traffic and send it deeper in the network.

The fibre access nodes can support multiple fibre technologies including GPON, XGS-PON, 25GS-PON and Point-to-Point Ethernet to deliver l wide range of services with the best fit technology. Nokia optical network termination (ONT) devices/fibre modems, are located at the user location. They terminate the optical fibre connection and delivers broadband services within the user premises or cell sites.

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Commenting on what the Proximus deployment will do for the roadmap of PON solutions, Federico Guillén, president of network infrastructure at Nokia, said: “10 years ago, our companies launched the technology which enabled a switch to HD TV. Today we make history again with a network that is 200x faster. We are proud to support Proximus in enabling the world’s first 25G PON network.”

The networking equipment is powered by Nokia’s Quillion chipset, which supports three generations of PON technologies. Quillion has been adopted by more than 100 operators since its launch in 2020, and operators deploying Quillion-based GPON and XGS-PON solution can evolve to 25G PON.

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