What is an ONT?

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It is important to understand the different components of fiber technology if you are considering installing it in your home or office. There are many abbreviations to know, and ONT is one of them.

ONT stands for Optical Network Terminal​. It is an outlet to the Internet for fiber technology just like how a cable modem is the outlet for a coaxial cable Internet connection. It is a device that communicates directly with an Internet service provider (ISP) to get a fiber-optic Internet connection in your home or office. However, an ONT is specific to fiber-optic Internet so you cannot use an ONT with an Ethernet over coax or MoCA device like a cable modem, router or cable modem router, for example.

This page focuses on ONT, but there are other fiber technology abbreviations to know. The other abbreviations are:

  • PON​, which stands for ​Passive Optical Network.​ A PON is the “last stop” between you and your ISP. More specifically, the PON is the last part of the communication chain that reaches your home.
  • OLT​, which stands for ​Optical Line Terminal. ​An OLT is the device that serves as your ISPs endpoint of the PON. ​An OLT provides the interface between a PON and a service provider’s core network.​ ​For more, c​heck out our OLT page.
  • ONU​, which stands for ​Optical Network Unit. ​This is a combo device that functions as both an ONT and OLT. That means an ONU acts as both the endpoint of the PON and as the interface for the user. ​For more, ​check out our ONU page.

Overall, a PON consists of an OLT at the service provider’s central office and a number of ONUs or ONTs near end users.


How an ONT fits into your home network

An ONT device is necessary for your home network ​only if​ you have fiber installed. This is because, with fiber-optic Internet, you cannot use any modem or router. You must have an ONT or OLT and a fiber router.

In your fiber network, the ONT is the modem. The ONT sends infrared light pulses to communicate with your ISP. This is how you get an Internet connection in your home on a fiber-optic network. With the fiber router, you can then get and distribute a Wi-Fi signal to your devices.

This will sound familiar because the process is similar to ​an Ethernet over coax Wi-Fi network.​ The difference is the type of cabling you have in your home. Most homes will already have the coax cables you need to use a cable modem or cable modem router. But to use fiber, it requires expensive fiber cable installation and specific fiber-optic devices like an ONT and fiber router.

There are ​pros and cons​ to using fiber technology. While fiber technology is certainly fast and secure, it can get expensive with installation and specific updated devices like the ONT and fiber router. However, ​Hitron’s offerings​ of ONT devices make home networking an easier, better experience overall. Ask your ISP about Hitron’s 10G PON ONT/ONU devices today for your future network. For more information on home networking solutions check out Hitron’s ​Learn Page​.


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