China Mobile recently announced the winners of its optical network terminal (ONT) tender for 2022-2023, and the results were particularly good news for ZTE, who won a share in all five tender categories and was the top winner in terms of unit share in three of them, particularly for 10G GPON technology.
With a total volume of 26 million units, the tender represented the largest centralized procurement of ONTs by any operator in the Chinese market this year and attracted participation from numerous vendors.
China Mobile divided its ONT tender into five packages focused on specific technology combinations – i.e. GPON and 10G GPON with and without Wi-Fi.
Of these, ZTE won the largest share of units in the two 10G GPON packages – specifically, 10G GPON with Wi-Fi 6 (23.9%) and 10G GPON without Wi-Fi (40%). ZTE also topped the ONT package for GPON without Wi-Fi, winning 18.8% of units tendered.
ZTE also scored some business in the other two tender packages for GPON + Wi-Fi 5 and GPON + Wi-Fi 6.
The China Mobile ONT tender was in response to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s “Action Plan for Collaborative Development of Dual-Gigabit Networks (2021-2023)”, which aims to build both fixed and mobile networks capable of delivering gigabit speeds to all urban areas and as many rural areas as possible in China within three years.
To meet that goal, Chinese telecoms operators will have to provide gigabit optical fiber network coverage to 400 million Chinese households by the end of 2023. To that end, China Mobile and China Telecom have been accelerating the rollout of “dual-gigabit” networks (which essentially means combining gigabit fiber-optic and 5G infrastructures) through advanced PON technologies, especially 10G GPON.
China’s not alone in accelerating 10G GPON deployments – a recent survey from the Lightwave Online industry publication, its sister site Broadband Technology Report (BTR) and the Fiber Broadband Association found that 81% of service provider respondents are planning 10G fiber technology deployments within the next two years, including additions to existing deployments and completion of projects already underway. Of the respondents, around 56% prefer XGS-PON for their 10G needs, with the rest divided between Active Ethernet, 10G EPON and NG-PON2.
Apart from obvious drivers like faster speeds and competitive differentiation, some respondents also see 10G GPON as a way to serve new customer segments, roll out new services, serve more subscribers per port and support 5G mobile services.