Vendors Pair With Upstarts For Fiber-To-The-Home Dance

Vendors Pair With Upstarts For Fiber-To-The-Home Dance

Byline: Ed Gubbins

Tempted by the promise of wide-scale, decades-long fiber-to-the-premises deployments by the Bell companies, traditional telco equipment vendors are forging symbiotic partnerships with innovative access start-ups.

At Telecom ’03 in Las Vegas this week, Fujitsu is showcasing the FTTP system developed by stealth-mode start-up Entrisphere that the two vendors plan to sell to RBOCs. Based on ATM and compliant with broadband passive optical network (BPON) and full service access network (FSAN) standards, the companies’ BLM 1500 PON system is tailor-made for RBOCs. Whether in the central office or remote terminal, the 1500 will terminate POTS and DSL traffic until carriers are ready to migrate customers line by line to PON for triple-play services.

And with a growing number of utility firms and municipalities deploying FTTP, vendors like Fujitsu and Entrisphere are confident that if the Bells don’t buy in, someone else will.

The two companies teamed up this spring, when word hit the streets that RBOCs were investigating wide-scale FTTP. When asked if the duo would market their PON gear elsewhere if they failed to win an RBOC contract, Fujitsu’s access strategies business development director Ken Morris said, “We fully intend to win a piece of that [request for proposal].”

Fujitsu/Entrisphere joins a growing list of already public partners, including Quantum Bridge/Motorola and Optical Solutions/Cisco Systems, that also responded to the Bells’ joint request. Alcatel, the vendor viewed most likely to win a major part of the Bell RFP, is trumpeting interoperability between its 7340 PON system and the Exxtenz optical network terminal (ONT) made by Carrier Access to serve businesses. For Alcatel, which has a proven residential PON system but no business ONT, Exxtenz fills in a missing piece.

Hitachi Telecom and Wave7 Optics unveiled their own FTTP system at the Fiber-to-the-Home conference in New Orleans last week. Hitachi has been selling its AMN1200 PON portfolio in Japan for years, but needed Wave7 to add the video and analog voice interfaces necessary for American-style triple-play. Wave7 also helped with residential customer premises equipment. Hitachi’s new American portfolio (branded Hitachi, though Wave7 will sell it here, too) also will include gigabit Ethernet PON and point-to-point Ethernet gear for businesses.

“The point-to-point Ethernet product is a good differentiator, especially from the viewpoint of RBOCs that may face resistance from enterprises due to the perceived risk of a shared architecture,” said Maria Zepetella, Probe Research’s vice president of optical infrastructure markets. “I don’t recall any other vendor having this option. However, most FTTx deployments to date have been very clear cut – either point-to-point Ethernet or PON.”

Because the Hitachi gear is BPON-based and FSAN-compliant, it also evens out Wave7’s portfolio, which is Ethernet-based and proprietary, and not adherent to FSAN. With its base of municipal and utility customers, Wave7 is well aware that the Bells aren’t the only market for FTTP gear. In addition to the Telecom ’03 show, Wave7 and Hitachi are also peddling their gear at the American Public Power Association Community Broadband conference in Kansas City this week.

FTTP vendor teams


For live coverage from the USTA’s Telecom ’03 this week, click on the News tab of our Web site. WWW.TELEPHONYONLINE.COM/NEWS

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