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Calix Joins MDU ONT Party

Raymond McConville
News Analysis
Raymond McConville

Citing the 32 percent of U.S. homes that are multiple dwelling units (MDUs), Calix Networks Inc. (NYSE: CALX) is launching a new set of optical network terminals (ONTs) to be deployed in apartment complexes, businesses, and even cell sites. (See Calix Adds MDU ONTs.)

Calix will be shipping three new MDU ONTs in the new 760G line, each capable of running 2.5-Gbit/s GPON. In their optimal configurations, the new ONTs support between four and eight unit areas, but that's not necessarily how they'll be deployed.

"We have customers looking to deploy one or multiple numbers of these units on each floor of an MDU," says Geoff Burke, director of field marketing for Calix.

Features of the new ONTs include support for RF video and IPTV and a Gigabit Ethernet interface.

Getting fiber-based services into an MDU can be challenging, but Calix says its new ONTs can simplify the process. "For one, all Calix ONTs are auto-recognized and can be remotely installed and tested before the fiber is even connected to them," says Burke.

Also, each ONT can support a number of different media on the other end, meaning the ONT can support the different needs of business and residential tenants in mixed-use buildings. For example, a unit with a business downstairs that needs a Gigabit Ethernet connection can run on the same MDU ONT as the residential unit upstairs that might only be running traditional POTS services.

Calix also hopes to deploy these ONTs at cell sites to provide support for wireless backhaul delivery as carriers look to move to higher bandwidth 3G and 4G services.

Calix used to serve MDUs with its 761 ONT, which was just an enclosure housing four of its single-family 740 ONTs. The big disadvantage was that it required four strands of fiber running in, as opposed to the new MDU-specific ONTs that only need one.

With its customer base of mostly Tier 2 carriers, Calix says it isn't looking to deploy in 50-story high-rises like Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) does. For large complexes like that, it would much more likely use its older E5 120 VDSL units where the fiber would terminate in the basement, with the building's copper lines covering the rest of the way.

But because of this lack of exposure to Tier 1 carriers, Calix says it is not prone to the margin pressures that have plagued other access vendors like Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA). (See Adtran & Tellabs: A Tale of Two Access Stories, Tellabs Kills Its Verizon GPON Efforts, and Tellabs's Access Biz Under Fire.)

Calix also boasts that its GPON market share is way beyond that of any Tier 1 vendor and claims to have shipped more than twice as many GPON ONTs as Nokia Networks -– the vendor with the second highest share.

"These other folks simply have not been shipping GPON," says Burke when explaining how it has such a commanding market share without any big customers. "Verizon is now moving to it as its predominant technology, but it's still very early on. Our smaller customers simply don't face the logistical and operational challenges and hurdles that the large guys do." (See Verizon's Going Strong on GPON, AT&T Prepping for GPON, and Verizon Preps GPON Push.)

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:42:06 PM
re: Calix Joins MDU ONT Party
Ooh dear what can the matter be at Cowlicks -
It is about time they had GPON ONT available - 2 years in the marketing hype phase.

Next they will be talking about direct ethernet to the home and how the Calix magic boxes can do everything.
Raymond McConville
Raymond McConville,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:42:04 PM
re: Calix Joins MDU ONT Party
they've had GPON ONTs, just not ones for MDUs
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