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Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) Passive Optical Networks (PONs)

Definition and Overview


This tutorial discusses the economics, operator and customer benefits, and technological development of optical distribution networks with asynchronous transfer mode passive optical networks (ATM PONs). ATM–PON infrastructure is widely cited by telecommunications carriers and equipment vendors as potentially the most effective broadband access platform for provisioning advanced multimedia services as well as legacy services such as tier 1 (T1). Since 1995, an influential group of worldwide carriers and equipment vendors has been developing requirement specifications for a full-service access network with ATM PON as the core technology.


The deployment of fiber-optic technology to homes and businesses is poised to change the way telecommunications services—primarily voice, data, and video services—will be delivered to the twenty-first century, information-based economy. Interest is high among business and residential consumers for advanced, broadband services such as fast Internet access, electronic commerce, video on demand, digital broadcasting, teleconferencing, and telemedicine, among others. However, the lack of available bandwidth to deliver these services effectively to the last mile of homes and businesses has stifled development of new multimedia applications.

An optical distribution network with ATM PON as the core technology promises benefits to end users as well as carriers and service providers. When optical network access is achieved in scale, businesses and consumers will realize opportunities for advanced services at relatively low costs. Because of cost savings inherent with the ATM–PON platform, telecommunications carriers and service providers will realize efficiencies in provisioning future applications and upgrading bandwidth to satisfy customers' demands.

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