The energy savings of 10 Gbps vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) for use in energy-efficient optical network units (ONUs) is critically examined in this work. We experimentally characterize and analytically show that the fast settling time and low power consumption during active and power-saving modes allow the VCSEL-ONU to achieve significant energy savings over the distributed feedback laser (DFB) based ONU. The power consumption per customer using VCSEL-ONUs and DFB-ONUs, is compared through an illustrative example of 10G-EPON for Video-on-Demand delivery. Using energy consumption models and numerical analyses in sleep and doze mode operations, we present an impact study of network and protocol parameters, e.g. polling cycle time, network load, and upstream access scheme used, on the achievable energy savings of VCSEL-ONUs over DFB-ONUs. Guidance on the specific power-saving mode to maximum energy savings throughout the day, is also presented.
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