Last week, as part of our quarterly new product release, we introduced the Cisco Catalyst PON Series – the latest addition to our industry-renowned Cisco Catalyst portfolio.

Some of you might be asking “What is PON??”

For others, you might be saying “I remember PON. Why now?

And for some “I have deployed PON. Why Cisco PON?!”

What is PON?

A quick look

First, passive optical networking, or PON, has indeed been around for a while. In fact, it was developed in the early 1990’s to solve a serious network issue confronting service provider telephony networks. Curiously enough, the problem was all centered around call hold times and the advent of the public Internet.

As PON was originally developed for and (in part) by Service Providers, it had to have the ability to deliver traditional residential services plus the troublesome broadband Internet access that they were trying to bypass directly to the Internet provider. You might recognize them as triple play services (data, voice, video). And perhaps just as important, the solution also had to address two key deployment pain-points:

  • 100 meter distance limitation of twisted pair copper-based cabling
  • the complications associated with powering in-the-field amplifiers to reach from the central office to the end user

The resulting ITU and IEEE standards addressed all of these needs.

A fresh look at GPON for the enterprise network

Although PON was originally designed for service providers and FTTx deployments, GPON has also gained favor in the enterprise networks at large hotels and resorts, school campuses, metro high-rise buildings, and military and healthcare facilities. This is likely because they share many of the same network and distributed access requirements needed for consumer residential services:

  • triple-play services
  • accommodate long distances between main data center and the Ethernet end-point
  • higher density Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • security of fiber

Most would agree that with optimized bandwidth efficiency and end-to-end visibility and control of point-to-point, copper-based and active fiber-based Ethernet distribution networking has clearly evolved to be the enterprise network topology of choice. But for those who have already chosen a PON topology or wanting to deliver Gigabit speed triple play services in a “broadacre” environment, enterprise-grade GPON is an attractive option to consider.

Figure 1. Why enterprise-grade GPON?

Recent estimates have GPON deployments growing at a double digit rate to nearly $38 B by 2027 (Global Industry Analysts, July 2020) with a special interest from building owners looking for a solution with energy efficiency, simple management, and minimum cabling. Many of the network managers who have already deployed a PON solution are looking to refresh to 2.5Gbps GPON and updated security features, often with a vision of deploying Wi-Fi 6 and Wave 2 access points. 2.5Gbps PON is also seen as an easy steppingstone to next generation PON capabilities as the standard continues to evolve to 10Gbps and beyond.

While the market has said it is a good time to offer an enterprise-grade GPON solution, it is actually in response to our customers’ need for an end-to-end Cisco solution that compelled us to develop our first offering in the enterprise GPON space. We are proud to announce the latest addition to the Catalyst portfolio, the highly anticipated Cisco Catalyst PON Series.

Introducing the Cisco Catalyst PON Series

The Cisco Catalyst PON Series has been designed to make refreshing your PON networks easy. With enterprise-grade features like power and uplink redundancy, encryption, PoE+ and a sensitivity on cost and ease of operations, the Cisco Catalyst PON Series offers a trouble-free upgrade so you can take advantage of many of the benefits the current GPON technology has to offer. Plus, it is backed by an industry leading 3-year extended warranty with 10-day advanced replacement and a free 90-day trial of Smart Net Total Care. And, of course, as part of the Cisco Catalyst portfolio, the Cisco Catalyst PON Series is part of an end-to-end Cisco solution that comes with the assurance that your investment is protected with future innovations to come.

The Cisco Catalyst PON Series provides the switching at the active ends of the PON distribution network, specifically the network facing Optical Line Terminals (OLT) and user facing Optical Network Terminals (ONT).

The Cisco Catalyst PON Series includes 8 and 16 port OLT options, and five ONT models that include options for data, video, voice, CATV, PoE+ and Wi-Fi.

Figure 2. Cisco Catalyst PON topology.

Cisco Catalyst PON Series Optical Line Terminals

Figure 3. Cisco Catalyst PON 16 port and 8 port OLTs.

Connecting to the core of the network are the standards-based, compact, high-density network optical aggregation devices called Cisco Catalyst PON Series Optical Line Terminals (OLTs). There are two OLT models, 8 port (CGP-OLT-8T) and 16 port (CGP-OLT-16T).

Both include redundant power options and redundant 1G (SFP or copper) or 10G (SFP+) uplinks and are managed by the Cisco Catalyst PON NMS network management system.

Cisco Catalyst PON Series Optical Network Terminals

At the optical edge are the small Cisco Catalyst PON Series Optical Network Terminals (ONTs) that provide access options to connect to high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, video, VoIP, CCTV, and CATV.

Figure 4. Cisco Catalyst PON 1 port, 4 port and Wi-Fi ONTs.

There are five ONT models providing a wide range of deployment options:

  • 1x 1G PoE+ (CGP-ONT-1P) *
  • 4x1G PoE+ (CGP-ONT-4P)
  • 4x1G PoE+, 2xPOTS (CGP-ONT-4PV)
  • 4x1G PoE+, 2xPOTS, 1xCATV (CGP-ONT-4PVC)
  • 4x1G, 2xPOTS, 1xCATV, 2.4GHz/5GHz Wi-Fi (CGP-ONT-4TVCW) *

*Available Q1, 2021

Cisco Catalyst PON Manager

Figure 5. Cisco Catalyst PON Manager.

The free Cisco Catalyst PON Manager is a powerful network management software that enables centralized and single point PON network operation and management by configuring and monitoring end-to-end devices including Catalyst OLT and Catalyst ONT switches. It allows for automatic configuration and provisioning of devices and services, and it also provides a health and network diagnostic to manage the GPON network. And because the device configuration closely resembles that of any Catalyst switch, your IT staff will be quick to pick up the interface.

What our customers are saying

With a focus on new and refresh opportunities at large hotels and resorts, school campuses, high-rise office buildings, and military and healthcare facilities, Cisco Catalyst PON Series could be deployed in a number of different environments.

For example, a typical hospitality customer has a number of needs:

  • Connectivity with large-scale, wide-range, scattered distribution of rooms
  • Long-distance networking between different floors and different buildings
  • Variety of services: Wireless, fixed IPTV, voice, guest control, etc.
  • Triple-play services in a unified platform: Voice + video + data
  • High tolerance to humidity, salt, and corrosion
  • PoE is needed for Wi-Fi access points and IP phones
  • 1x Port Security required

An early deployment by a large hospitality provider, SamPol, has been very positive. Pablo Velarde Granados, Digital Business & Networking Development manager from SamPol said (translated) “When we received the equipment, we were surprised at the robustness of the ONT/OLT hardware, which is not that common at the PON industry.”

“The devices configuration is Cisco-like and hence familiar to us, which makes the onboarding very easy.” Mr. Mingus further stated, “The ONT´s are great! It is a brilliant idea to have the power source integrated to reduce future issues. In general, Cisco is bringing the PON market to the enterprise level, which makes the solution interesting to any customer willing to renew their networks. After 4 years of shouting in the desert about PON, Cisco has got it right and it will change the way this technology is seen.”

One Catalyst solution, one Cisco ecosystem

Simple, safe, and cost-efficient, the enterprise-grade Cisco Catalyst PON Series delivers the predictable and stable connectivity that customers expect, while securely supporting critical service customers’ need to cope with a constantly changing environment. With the Catalyst portfolio, you can innovate with confidence and grow your businessas as you adopt new technologies and even older technologies like GPON. Our Cisco team is here to help you succeed. We focus on delivering the right technology options so you can focus on your customers and business.

This may be your first brush with PON. Even if you are an old hat with PON, it may be time to take a fresh look at GPON. Sometimes something old can turn into something new.


Learn more about the Cisco Catalyst PON Series.



Min Seo

Product Manager

IBN Networks, Enterprise Networks Switching