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Moto, Alloptic Tag-Team on RFoG

Jeff Baumgartner
2/10/2009

Rather than striking out on its own, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) has opted to throw its hat into the budding RF over Glass (RFoG) ring through an exclusive partnership with Alloptic Inc.

Under the deal, Motorola will resell Alloptic's RFoG portfolio, which includes a family of MicroNode optical network unit (ONU) models and return path receiver technology. Motorola will integrate Alloptic's gear with its own cable network nodes and headend systems. (See Moto, Alloptic Strike RFoG Deal.)

RFoG, an emerging Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) standard, enables a cable operator to pull fiber all the way to the home or business while preserving the MSO's headend and supporting backoffice systems. Thanks to the MicroNode, a small device that handles the optical-to-electrical conversion at the premises, RFoG also allows operators to continue using traditional digital set-tops and Docsis-based cable modems and embedded multimedia terminal adapters (E-MTAs) to deliver video, voice, and Internet services. (See RFOG Comes Rolling In , Lifting the Fog on RFOG, Fog Lifting on RFOG, and SCTE Moves on RFOG.)

The RFoG concept is starting to resonate with operators in greenfield environments, including new housing developments and rural areas considered unreachable (in an economic sense, anyway) with hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks.

MSOs are also considering RFoG for business services and as a component of their wireless backhaul strategies. Among larger operators, Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) have issued RFIs (requests for information) on RFoG as well as PON-based fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) architectures. (See Time Warner Cable's Fiber-licious RFI and Cox Flirts With Fiber .)

The deal
Financial terms were not disclosed, but Motorola plans to market the Alloptic gear alongside its own to Tier 1 cable operators. In turn, Alloptic, which already has several deployments with small and mid-sized MSOs, will use Motorola as a sales channel when opportunities with larger cable operators emerge.

Additionally, Alloptic's MicroNodes will start carrying the Motorola brand "at some point," says Floyd Wagoner, director of global marketing and marketing communications for Motorola's access networks solutions unit.

The agreement marks Motorola's formal entry into the RFoG market, complementing work it already has underway with "cable-friendly" PON-based schemes. (See Moto Expands 'CablePON' Strategy and Moto Intros Cable PON.)

Alloptic, which started out as an Ethernet PON vendor, markets MicroNodes in various flavors, including some RFoG-only models as well as devices that can support EPON wavelengths. Motorola is also looking into cable FTTP strategies centered on GPON.

The Alloptic agreement "tightens up our RFoG story… and rounds out our RFoG portfolio," Wagoner says.

He says Motorola partnered with Alloptic because the agreement gives it access to a range of deployed, proven products. Last fall, Alloptic claimed to have more than 40 RFoG customers, including Armstrong Cable , BendBroadband , NPG Cable Inc. , Midcontinent Communications, and Allen's TV Cable Service. An Alloptic official offered an update today, revealing that the vendor now has 56 RFoG customers, adding 12 new ones -- including seven outside of the U.S. -- since its previous report. (See RFOG Comes Rolling In and Alloptic Notches 'RFOG' Wins.)

Alloptic isn't the only RFoG specialist looking for MSO deals. Others active in the sector include Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT), Hitachi Telecom (USA) Inc. , and Salira Systems Inc.

And Motorola and Alloptic aren't the only vendors to forge formal RFoG partnerships. CommScope Inc. , for example, has developed BrightPath, a cable FTTP system that matches up its home-side interface units with special fiber nodes made by Aurora Networks Inc. (See CommScope Sees BrightPath for Cable FTTP.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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