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DSL/vectoring/G.fast

Ericsson Fills Its VDSL 'Black Hole'

CHICAGO -- Globalcomm 2006 -- Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has ramped up its broadband access portfolio here by unveiling a new remote DSLAM product that the company says fills "a black hole" in terms of high-speed access capabilities. (See Ericsson Lands VDSL2 Platform.)

Speaking at a Globalcomm analyst briefing here Monday, Ericsson executives also discussed an early-stage home gateway development, updated the crowd on its in-house IP router capabilities (yes, it has some!), and commented on its relationship with Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN). More on those later.

The new EDA (Ethernet DSL Access) product, based on VDSL2 technology (up to 100 Mbit/s), is aimed at carriers that are taking fiber to the curb or neighborhood node, to deliver bandwidth-hungry services such as video and interactive online gaming.

Ericsson's technical director for wireline services, Peter Linder, says the product provides a 10-times improvement in performance over the vendor's current ADSL2+ remote DSLAM product, which couldn't be pushed any further to deal with services such as high-definition TV. But he claims that the cost hasn't multiplied by the same factor. "We told the designers we needed 10 times the capabilities but to be no more than two times as expensive," says Linder.

The new platform can connect 12 lines of VDSL2, conforms to the Broadband Forum 's Technical Report 101 (TR-101), which addresses the use of Ethernet aggregation in access networks, and can function at extreme temperatures -- from -40 degrees Celsius to 75 degrees Celsius. (See DSL Forum Publishes Report and VDSL2.)

Linder says the delivered product can range in size from the 12-line minimum to a stacked 240 lines in a larger cabinet, depending on the connectivity needs of the carrier customer, and that the product is available now.

So what does that mean for Ericsson's partnership with remote DSLAM vendor Critical Telecom Corp. , which was announced only last February? (See Ericsson Forms Critical Partnership .) Linder says that relationship filled the gap in Ericsson's portfolio while it was developing this new product, so it sounds as if that partnership is all but finished.

The Ciena connection
Linder also commented on the relationship with Ciena. He says he was as surprised as anyone to see Ericsson named as a 10 percent-plus customer by the optical equipment firm last week. (See Ericsson Gives Ciena a Boost.)

But what is Ericsson doing selling Ciena's gear when it now has its own optical portfolio, following the Marconi acquisition? Linder says the revenues pulling through now are the result of an agreement about three years old and stem mainly from a significant deal with Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM). And, while he says there is "obviously more focus on selling our own solutions, it makes sense to continue reselling some lines, and obviously we will honor all customer relationships."

IP future in the balance
Ericsson is also a significant partner for a number of IP equipment vendors, namely Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR). But, again following the Marconi acquisition, Ericsson now has some in-house router development in the shape of the former Crescent Networks. (See Crescent Fertile for Marconi and Marconi Intros Service Router.)

The future of the product known as the Marconi Service Router appears to hang in the balance, however. When asked for an update on Crescent developments, Jo Ferrara, Ericsson's general manager of data networks, would say only that Ericsson is "in the process of determining the path forward for Crescent."

Home gateway development
The home gateway sector is hot, as carriers and vendors chase a new revenue and service delivery opportunity. (See Entone Unveils Home Gateway, Moto Says Hello to DSL Gateway Market, Cisco: Do-it-All Gateway on the Way , Verizon Moves Toward Home Gateway, BT Gets a Gateway, and The DSL Gateway Dilemma.)

Now it looks as if Ericsson, which Monday unveiled its IPTV strategy some time after the other major vendors, is again following the trend. (See Ericsson Brings the IPTV.)

The company is demonstrating some IPTV and home networking capabilities here at the show with partner Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) and has developed a home gateway based on a souped-up SIM (subscriber identity module) card. While Ericsson's official line is that this is a one-off for the show's demo, one executive on the sidelines says it is the prototype for a home gateway product called the HIGA –- home interactive gateway.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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