Understanding passive optical networks: devices and transceivers explained

In this 5-minute Vitex Talks episode, we’ll be elaborating on the passive optical network transceivers and devices. A device in a passive optical network is something that the transceiver transmits information through, like a modem that sends information through fiber-to-the-home. A transceiver in a passive optical network comes in two main forms: board-mounted and pluggable.

Listen to the article

Watch the video


(0:00-0:30) Intro
(0:31-1:32) What’s the difference between a PON transceiver and a device?
(1:33-2:25) PON devices
(2:26-3:52) PON transceivers
(3:53-4:29) Conclusion

Products Mentioned

PON transceivers

Read the transcript


Hey everybody, this is Craig from Vitex again and today we’re shining a light on some more information about PON and we’re answering your questions as they come in. So, thanks a lot for all those comments and I hope everybody’s enjoying the coffee for the people that we’re selecting. So, we’re going to get to today’s question.

[Viewer Question: What’s the difference between a PON transceiver and a device?]

What’s the difference between a PON transceiver and a device?

All right. That’s a great question. Yeah it’s definitely kind of a little confusing sometimes when we talk about what’s in the network right? Because we hear about some of these terms like devices, DUT devices on their test and so we think, “Well, you know, in electronics and communication, isn’t everything a device?” But we kind of use terms to distinguish one from another. So today what we’re really talking about is, what’s the difference between a transceiver and a device?

So just kind of a quick refresh, but you can get some more information on our other video when we talk more details about the PON network. So the, if we remember there’s three main components in the PON right?

So we have our OLT, a splitter, our ONUs which are also known as ONTs. So when we just kind of run through those we have our optical line terminal, our optical network unit, our optical network termination. And remember, both of these are kind of interchangeable. So what is that kind of device?

PON devices

So a PON device that you would see in a typical ONU is kind of like this right? So it’s a modem that’s in your home a lot of times. So we can see how this ONU is kind of like your incoming network connection. It connects your fiber to inside your house and then there’s a couple other pieces that could be inside your house or maybe a business or an apartment or a school or a hospital right?

There’s lots of different options. But, you know, you’ll hear about other boxes such as routers and switches and how they all connect all of your personal computers to all of this network and bring everything back to our passive fiber connection and then to our central office where there’s another device, right, that is used as a terminal. And so that kind of handles what are our devices that we use in a PON setup?

PON transceivers

What about transceivers? Okay. So transceivers come in two primary flavors right? So if you’re a fan of like chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, mint chocolate chip, you can pretty much get whatever you want. The main difference is one is board mounted and one is pluggable. Right. So just so, as we saw on that device, if we have a board mounted SFF or small form factor, that rests on top of the board. You can’t really remove it. And then the other type is pluggable, right? So we have these removable SFPs. So if we have a unit we have a capability of like putting these in and taking them out and we can move those around. So that’s the main difference between these two. So we’re going to talk a little bit more about the pluggable options because you can get a lot of information from us here in our New Jersey office. So check out our website, drop us a message. So there’s a couple different types of PON transceivers that you can get from us here in Vitex. As we mentioned before, the SFP or the small form pluggable. There’s SFP plus, which is our enhanced version of that. And then an SFP is a different form factor and this really just refers to the 10G option. All right. So depending on how your network is set up, you’re going to need a specific transceiver to be able to communicate through these three different main components of your network.


So give us a call, reach out to us in our New Jersey office. We’re local. You know, this year we’re celebrating our 20th year and we’re happy to answer any of your questions and keep submitting comments and questions and keep getting coffee. So until the next person gets coffee, that’s it for now, and I’ll see you next time.

Group working together

Subscribe and stay informed

Your job is easier with a fiber optic expert for a friend.