Centralized Splitting vs Distributed Splitting in PON Based FTTH Networks

Posted on October 19, 2016

Passive optical network (PON) based FTTH access network is a point-to-multipoint, fiber to the premises network architecture in which passive optical splitters are used to enable a single optical fiber to serve multiple premises. The optical fiber splitter can be placed in different locations of the PON based FTTH network, which involves using centralized (single-stage) or distributed (multi-stage) splitting configurations in the distribution portion of the network. In fact, both methods have its own advantages and disadvantages. Which one should you deploy? Comparison between centralized splitting and distributed splitting will be provided in this article.

Fiber Splitter Centralized Splitting Overview

A centralized splitting approach generally uses a combined split ratio of 1:64 (with a 1:2 splitter in the central office, and a 1:32 in a cabinet). These single-stage fiber splitters can be placed at several locations in the network or housed at a central location. But in most cases, the centralized fiber splitters are placed in the outside plant (OSP) to reduce the amount of overall fiber required. The optical line terminal (OLT) active port in the central office (CO) will be connected/spliced to a fiber leaving the CO. This fiber passes through different closures to reach the input port of the fiber splitter, normally placed in a cabinet. The output port of this fiber splitter goes to the distribution network, reaching the homes of potential customers through different closures and indoor/outdoor terminal boxes.

fiber splitter Centralized Splitting

Figure 1: Centralized splitting

Fiber Splitter Distributed Splitting Overview

Unlike centralized splitting, a distributed splitting approach has no fiber splitters in the central office. The OLT port is connected/spliced directly to an outside plant fiber. A first level of splitting (1:4 or 1:8) is installed in a closure, not far from the central office. The input of this first level fiber splitter is connected with the OLT fiber coming from the central office. A second level of fiber splitters (1:16 or 1:8) resides in terminal boxes, very close to the customer premises (each splitter covering 8 to 16 homes). The inputs of these PON splitters are the fibers coming from the outputs of the first level splitters described above.

fiber splitter Distributed-Splitting

Figure 2: Distributed splitting.

Fiber Splitter Centralized Splitting vs Distributed Splitting

From the knowledge of centralized and distributed splitting described above, we can know that for centralized splitting, all PON splitters are located in one closure, which will maximize OLT utilization and provide a single point of access for troubleshooting. But since optical splitters must be terminated to customer either through individual splices or connectors, the cost of distribution cables will be very high. In terms of distributed splitting methods, the PON splitters are located in two or more different closure, which will minimize the amount of fiber that needs to be deployed to provide service. But it may create inefficient use of OLT PON ports and may increase the testing and turn-up time of customers. The advantages and disadvantages of centralized and distributed splitting are summarized in the table below:

Advantages Disadvantages
Centralized Splitting OLT utilization (pay as you grow) More distribution fiber
Future proof & easy to change technology Larger network elements in the OSP
Monitoring & maintenance Possibly additional infrastructure
Distributed Splitting Lower capital expense for customer connection More actives and more splitters
Reduces splitter cabinet requirements Less flexible network
Flexibility in split ratios in serving area Fewer monitoring & maintenance capabilities


Before deciding which splitting methods to use in a PON based FTTH network, always considering every unique aspect of your network case. Since centralized splitting and distributed splitting both has its pros and cons, the best architecture is the one that meets the requirements and expectations of the provider by reducing capital expense, optimizing long-term operational expense, and making a future-proof network that can cope with new technologies without dramatic changes. FS.COM provides full series 1xN or 2xN FBT and PLC splitters which can divide a single/dual optical input(s) into multiple optical outputs uniformly, and offer superior optical performance, high stability and high reliability to meet various application requirements.