Alcatel is showing its latest fibre-optic access technology at the Supercomm trade show in Chicago. Based on gigabit passive optical networks, it will enable telephone operators to deploy video, voice, and data services directly to users over fibre-optic connections at up to 2.5Gbps.

For anyone in any doubt about the potential for telcos to offer television services, the latest fibre optic technologies offer extraordinary bandwidth.

Passive optical networks eliminate all active components between the telephone exchange and the customer, using passive optical splitters to split light waves. This enables a single fibre optic cable from the exchange to be shared among many customers.

The first generation of technology, based on asynchronous transfer mode or ATM, was known as APON and could only manage 622Mbps downstream and 155Mbps upstream.

While that should be enough for most uses, it seems that new interactive high definition television services will eventually drive demand for higher speeds.

Broadband BPON increased speeds to 1.2Gbps downstream and 622Mbps upstream, adding support for internet protocols. Different wavelengths are able to carry separate signals, including video.

It is this technology that Verizon is planning to use as it builds out its fibre-to-the-premises network in the United States. Rather than delivering video over internet protocol, the Verizon service will initially use something closer to cable television technology to transmit high-definition signals over its network.

Now GPON, or gigabit passive optical network, recently ratified as a standard by the International Telecommunications Union, promises to provide speeds of up to 2.5Gbps downstream and 1.2Gbps upstream.

With IPTV as a driving force behind the strong interest in GPON technology, scalability is a critical concern for operators who plan to launch service to millions of subscribers.

While commercial availability of components needed to build cost-effective GPON networks is still emerging, most parties agree that GPON will be the ultimate technology of the future, according to Alcatel.

“The introduction of our GPON solution demonstrates Alcatel’s continued commitment to providers worldwide who are deploying triple play services, and we believe fibre-to-the-premise represents a key dimension in their deployments,” said Michel Rahier of Alcatel.

Supercomm takes place in Chicago from 6-9 June.