tunable laser90% cheaper, Adtran believes. NG-PON2 is a high-end design that can use several frequencies for system performance up to 40 gigabits. Verizon intends to deploy to business customers in 2017 and presumably soon for advanced wireless backhaul, including the 5G build for Boston. Unfortunately, tunable lasers for the multiple frequencies are brutally expensive, as much as $1,000.
Kevin Schneider, Jared Cress, and team wondered if a different design and volume manufacturing could bring  NG-PON2 closer to mass deployment. Tunable lasers have mostly been used for backbone and high-end gear, like dense wave division multiplexing. That market is less sensitive to price and volume too small for efficient manufacturing. Adtran promises, "An order of magnitude drop in costs."
The new design gained credibility when Verizon made a point of including Adtran in a trial of NG-PON2 with a substantial order expected.
Verizon has used Adtran gear for decades, including many DSLAMs, so they know the company's engineers very well. Schneider isn't flashy or famous but is a respected veteran. Adtran has consistently delivered systems that compete well with companies with far more resources. They defined the VDSL2 line code and are making substantial contributions the ONOS open standard. Lasers are not their specialty but they are capable of innovative engineering.
Even more surprising was Verizon inviting Calix into the trial. Calix's strength is fiber to the home, where they have been the largest vendor in America for several years. There are over 60 current fiber to the home networks building, almost all at smaller carriers where Calix is strong. AT&T started coming on strong with fiber in 2016 and Verizon is restarting FiOS builds; Their traditional vendors, including Adtran, may rank higher this year.
Steven Hardy of Lightwave, one of the best, chose a skeptical headline, ADTRAN describes NG-PON2 tunable ONT transceivers (sort of). They revealed very few technical details. Kevin explained, "We think this will be a major strategic advantage for us. We don't want our competitors to know too much." They've filed patents but they aren't available yet. I've known Kevin and his work for over a decade and am confident he'll deliver what he promises.
Calix and Adtran bring a strong commitment to Software Defined Networks, which Verizon and AT&T believe will lower costs. SDN will allow telcos to mix and match components from different suppliers, including cheap "white box" manufacturers. Companies like Cisco, Alcatel, and Ciena swear allegiance to SDN, but many believe they continue to do whatever they can to lock customers to proprietary systems.  
Gary Bolton explained open systems are important to new entrants. "We are the disrupters. This helps us." 
ADTRAN Optics Reset the Economics of FTTH Service Delivery

Nx10G tunable optics network can save providers up to 80 percent of the capital and operational costs as they look to scale NG-PON2 deployments

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 10, 2016-- ADTRAN®, Inc., (NASDAQ:ADTN), a leading provider of next-generation open networking solutions, today announced its first Subscriber Edge Tunable (SET) optical transceivers, the latest innovation from ADTRAN Labs. ADTRAN’s entry into this new category of tunable optics addresses several key technology and innovation gaps that have hindered market development for multi-wavelength access networks. SET optics will be a key enabling technology for ADTRAN’s NG-PON2 solution, facilitating the delivery of highly elastic fiber services right to the customer premises equipment (CPE). Developed by ADTRAN Labs, this most recent innovation will enable access providers to cost-effectively and efficiently leverage Nx10G NG-PON2 to deliver even higher speed FTTH services to homes and business.

SET optics provide an essential building block for the wavelength agile access network of the future, providing the dynamic network capabilities needed to underpin the provider’s creation and deployment of user-driven service delivery models. By providing fast wavelength switching times and access-friendly cost points, SET optics will remove the operational and economic sensitivities that have previously limited tunable optics to transport applications. When paired with software-defined access to allow dynamic control, SET optics and NG-PON2 provide a highly dynamic physical layer to extend the programmable network to optical levels.

“With our new SET optical transceivers, ADTRAN Labs is addressing the most significant challenge for the economics of NG-PON2 deployments. The future value of the dynamic and extensible capabilities of NG-PON2 are unmatched and will serve the needs of access network providers worldwide for many years,” said Kevin Schneider, ADTRAN’s chief technology officer. “The capability to design our own optical transceivers allows ADTRAN Labs to focus on the needs of our customers and bring innovative enabling technology to market to enable their business cases.”

As Internet traffic levels rise and service providers look to support business and enterprise services over a unified access network, the ability to add capacity on the fly has become a network imperative. The multi-wavelength capability of NG-PON2, enabled by SET optics, helps access network operators pull more capacity out of their existing fiber access plants, providing a dispatch-free upgrade path when the existing PON capacity has become exhausted. Additionally, combining SDN-enabled capacity management with ADTRAN’s SET optics’ sub-50ms wavelength switchover times enables NG-PON2 networks to ensure the highest level of application quality of experience in a user-defined service structure and deliver resilient, SLA-based services. These benefits are realized by allowing the automatic offload of traffic from congested or out of service wavelengths and OLT ports to alternative wavelengths on less utilized network assets.

“Today, service providers are looking for highly scalable, programmable service delivery models. It is imperative that their current fiber network investment cost-effectively supports the next wave of multi-gigabit growth spurred by emerging user-driven services and applications,” said Julie Kunstler, principal analyst at Ovum. “ADTRAN’s subscriber edge tunable optics solution supports the cost-efficient expansion and unbundling of the FTTx architecture, accelerating the rollout of 10G residential and 10G and beyond enterprise services through disruptive ONT and CPE pricing.”

SET optics is one of several optical technology choices in ADTRAN’s unique access portfolio, providing flexible optics possibilities, including both fixed-wavelength and SET options for 10G ONUs to meet the needs of all access network operators.