OpenSource ONT Hardware running OpenWrt

this tweet has me thinking, is possible to design a Opensource ONT device for mass production?

The short answer would be "no".

The longer answer entails how much money you can put on the table, to get "a" big chipset vendor on bord and how many hundreds of thousands of chipset sales you can guarantee to them. Don't forget that you will also have to convince ISPs to certify these.

If you want to start from zero yourself, please just wake us up in a decade, when you might have (then-obsolete) proof-of-concept silicon for the markets of 2023, in an environment of 2033.

With devices like these, the economies of scale matter. Unless you're capable to manufacture in tranches of tens of thousands of units at least, no one will even start talking to you (and all you might get access to, are the spot markets with zero support). And as ONTs are an ISP market, you have to be competitive and attractive to the penny pinchers. They don't care about "open source", they don't care about features, but they do care about the lowest bidder (down to tenths of a penny).

he is talking for the ISPs and Govt. If Govt forces them to use certain Opensource hardware running OpenWrt, we are talking millions of ONt devices.
Pakistan is 5th largest country in the World by Population.

That doesn't really change anything.

The alternatives are easy, either you can convince the big chipset vendors that opening their IP is profitable - or no (legal-) ONTs for you.

Vendors don't need to accept your laws, if they can just opt to stay out of your market (or rely on grey imports of products not meeting the requirements to generate enough of a profit).

doesn't mean a lot either, if the margins aren't there.

Got your point, but economics of scale.

Is there anything in a ONT that have firmware to begin with?

It is pretty much only a very small and empty box that only converts 1:1 opto fiber signal to ethernet signal, that would be done faster with discrete components. Most of the volume in it is the PSU to drive the laser.

GPON needs a little more than that (and they're often running linux, albeit v2.6.x or v3.10.x and a very limited firmware, but with shell- and webinterfaces; think 8/64 and mips 34Kc at 266 MHz in the case of lantiq falcon).

I think AVM actually runs GPON in software on their routers and just uses a transponder for the optics, so in theory that is an option. That still leaves the problem of writing ONT software and getting it certified so ISPs will tolerate it.
In GPON ONTs were intended to be under ISP control, so things might not be prepared for potentially hostile ONTs, so I would assume ISPs will be careful which ONTs to allow in their networks....
Yes active optical networking would look simpler, but even there we run firmware blobs on the NICs...

Do we talk about a free standing ONT or a router with pretty much a SFP with optical transceiver?

Why do the ISP care about that?

This is essentially the same, it only depends on how much of its capabilities the computer acting as ONT is offering.... But in the the AVM case as far as I understand the they use a transceiver (crap, that was the word I was searching for when coming up with transponder, sorry)) and run all/most of the GPON stack on the router itself (no idea whether they use dedicated cpu(s) for that).

Because ONTs are designed to be part of an ISPs internal network, with a security model that assumes the ISP being in control of the unit. GPON being a shared TDM-medium where for uplink ONTs need to stick to their assigned timeslots, makes it easy to come up with strawmen how an adversarial ONT can cause mischief in a whole GPON segment/tree. (However pretty much the same applies for a simply broken ONT as well so this is a weird argument, but one that ISPs have brought). The other reason why ISPs care is that provisioning ONTs is something that all ISPs handle differently and e.g. Huawei (to name a vendor I recall doing this) offers a turn-key platform for GPON with its own provisioning system that conveniently assumes both Huawei OLTs and ONTs... any ISP using such system likely wants to make sure only compatible ONTs appear in its network.
And traditional ISPs want to test equipment before integrating it in their network and hence would like to be in control over ONTs (or at least which ONTs they will provision). The same held true for analog modems, DSL- and cable-modems, and on most of these cases we find ISPs that still stick to the "only our modems will work" model and those that basically will provision any compatible device.
I have been told by a source I trust, that support cost of the second model can easily be higher than for the first (however if I would be an ISP, I would opt for the second model if only not to box myself in with just a single supplier/vendor, but hey, I am not an ISP, so what do I know about that business...)

Has there been any progress on the Huawei MA5671A or are we still stuck with proprietary closed source drivers?

AVM just uses MaxLinear's PRX321 SoC, which from this document has "OAM hardware acceleration", so it is pretty clear it is not a pure software implementation.

According to modinfo, the kernel drivers are licensed under GPL and/or BSD as usual for Lantiq/MaxLinear (see mod_pon_mbox.ko, mod_pon_mcc.ko, mod_pon_eth.ko, intel_pon_hgu_vuni.ko). There are also some (presumably proprietary) firmware files.

So, in terms of openness, this platform seems to be similar to their DSL modems. The question is if some vendor is kind enough to release the GPL/BSD dual-licensed parts (at least so far it doesn't look like it).

(And in any case, actual OpenWrt support would still require adding support for the SoC and porting the drivers. Considering that the MIPS CPU isn't really an attractive target, I am not sure if anyone is actually motivated to work on that.)


Thanks, I was suspecting something like that, the main upshot seems to be that the AVM "GPON" SFP modules are unlikely to be usable as full GPON SFPs in other routers.

Did anybody here possibly look into getting the sources for their ONT? I have a ZTE F601 from the ISP here and it has this at the end in /proc/copyright:


If you would like a copy of the GPL source code contained in this product shipped to you on CD, for a charge which is no more than the cost of preparing and mailing a CD to you, please contact

Or maybe more generic, does anybody have experience with ZTE shipping them a CD? Might this help to get OpenWRT flashed on the ONT?

this is closet to OpenSource Hardware I could find.