Adtran Seeks ITU Blessing for Its FTTX Gear

KANSAS CITY -- IP Possibilities 2011 -- Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN) is still planning to bring its Ultra Broadband Ethernet (UBE) product to market later this year, but is also hoping the industry can adopt a standard that incorporates its proprietary architecture for delivering symmetric 100 Mbit/s to the home. (See BBWF 2010: Adtran Rethinks FTTX Economics.)

Kevin Morgan, Adtran's director of marketing for carrier networks, says there is now a proposal for the ITU to create a working group to consider ways to use Ethernet in the drop to the home, as Adtran's product does. Three Tier One service providers -- one in the U.S., one in Europe and one in the Middle East -- are conducting field trials of the Adtran product.

"The architecture is out there," Morgan says. "Now we need to get some service provider comment and standards development activity."

UBE is unusual in a few ways: Besides using a version of 100BaseT over the final 500 feet of twisted pair wiring into the home, a media adapter in the home actually pulls power from the consumer's commercial electrical service to power the pedestal, at a modest cost to the customer.

Since most phone networks are set up to provide two lines into each home, it would still be possible to offer a line-power lifeline voice service, in addition to IP-based data and video, Morgan says.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:07:38 PM
re: Adtran Seeks ITU Blessing for Its FTTX Gear

Besides the powering scheme, the way the product is rolled out is interesting. One ONT per every 8 homes vs. one for each home. Seems like that would save carriers a ton and be far less expensive for consumers to provide power for the equipment. 

Anyone see a downside to this approach?

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:07:37 PM
re: Adtran Seeks ITU Blessing for Its FTTX Gear


We produced these sorts of ONTs for FiOS BPON as part of the 2nd release to them.  They then putzed around trying to figure out how to use them.  We produced VDSL versions, Ethernet Versions, various POTS configurations, business ones with T-1s and all kinds of stuff like that.

In the end, Verizon deployed SFH ONTs to most apartments.  It was too hard to do the planning for availability of inbuiling copper.  We wasted a lot of money there.

Now my friends in Reltec/Marconi built their first FTTC ONU with Ethernet ports and a video overlay.  It was deployed modestly this way in BellSouth.  They eventually grew the ONU size and switched to DSL.  Part of the problem is of course....you have to be 100m to every home and then home run CAT5 cable (not Telephone cable).  This latter deployment was the bigger rollout inside BellSouth.

In terms of back powering, that is an interesting idea.  Of course, that means that maintenance in the home/homes might interfere with the powering of the ONU.  End customers might unplug the things and take down their neighbors service.  The Apartment building ONTs we did for FiOS were powered locally.  The Marconi ONUs were network powered (which limited the distance between the cabinet and the ONU).

The other thing that is a real problem.  Battery maintenance.  You will have to battery back those small pedestals.  Lots of trucks rolling to do that.  The Verizon model was that the owner eventually had to do the replacement.  The BellSouth FTTC model was a centralized battery plant in the cabinet.  I really, really wanted Flywheel batteries to work for this stuff (which they would technically) and be financially competitive (which they were not).



Duh! 12/5/2012 | 5:07:27 PM
re: Adtran Seeks ITU Blessing for Its FTTX Gear

First of all, this is not the first time that a vendor dropped a proprietary solution on the table at ITU-T, and certainly won't be the last.  It's also not the first time that a press release was crafted to create an atmosphere of inevitability around standardization of a proprietary solution.  At the end of the day, either UBE will get support from a few operators and get pushed through the standardization process, or not. 

A little quick research on this tells me this is similar, but not identical, to the old Reltec/Marconi stuff.  For one thing, it does not require new Cat5 drops;  transmission seems to be optimized for up to 100M of installed base drop cable. This is probably the justification for new standardization.  And it looks like the powering arrangement is shared among the 8 or so subs in a way that if one of them lost power, the others would pick up the load.   I'd be surprised if they haven't filed a few patents on this. 

Maybe the bigger question is whether a deep FTTC architecture buys anything relative to FTTH.  True, it avoids investment in new fiber drops.  But 100M (325 ft.) of wire is a pretty short distance, particularly when you factor in risers, dog legs, drip loops and so on.   It's not going to reach 8 homes per ONU in suburbs zoned for wide frontages and deep setbacks.  It's also not going to work in rural applications.  Interesting that the graphic on their website shows townhouses.  Besides, most of the cost of FTTH is in distribution and cabinets, not so much drops. 

But, we shall see.  All it will take is a handful of operators whose plant tends to fit the model.

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