PacketFront Lands Vienna Deal
The contract, which will be announced Tuesday, has been awarded by Wien Energie Wienstrom, a utility company owned by the city of Vienna, which has devised a plan to hook up all of the capital's 800,000 homes with high-speed fiber access connections.
The first phase of the rollout, which has a €10 million (US$14 million) capex budget, will connect 50,000 homes during the next two years. The city-owned company will run and manage the infrastructure as an open access network, with multiple service providers offering their access and content packages to the Viennese customers, a model already popular in Sweden and which has also been adopted by the Amsterdam CityNet fiber access project. (See Amsterdam Fires Up Muni Broadband.)
While many other European FTTH rollouts are using GPON technology, where bandwidth is shared among a number of connected households, Wien Energie has opted to deploy an active Ethernet infrastructure, with a dedicated and managed connection to each household, another decision that mirrors the Amsterdam project. French triple-play pioneer Iliad (Euronext: ILD) has also opted for an active Ethernet-based strategy. (See Amsterdam Gets Active With FTTH and Iliad Gets Active With FTTH.)
The fiber is being run through the utility company's existing ducts, with the access links connected to PacketFront's Advanced Services Router (ASR) and managed using the vendor's BECS operating software. The vendor is also supplying its home gateways for installation at the customer premises.
Although PacketFront CEO Martin Thunman declined to comment on the financial details of the deal, FTTH economics (network operator costs of €150 and above to connect and light an FTTH connection) suggests that his company will secure the majority of the project's capex.
Thunman says the deal is a breakthrough for the company, which claims to have 50 customer deployments in Europe, because it's for a high-profile capital city, the company's first, and outside the Nordic region, where most of PacketFront's business to date has been won. (See PacketFront Wins in Norway and EuroProfile: PacketFront.)
The CEO also cites the importance of having a home gateway product to offer as part of an end-to-end FTTH package. PacketFront acquired home gateway partner 42Networks in December 2006. (See PacketFront Buys 42Networks .)
Thunman also believes the deployment will be an important reference site that other project teams planning FTTH rollouts in Central and Eastern Europe can visit. The CEO says he is seeing a lot of fiber access activity in the region, driven mainly by ISPs and local competitive carriers, though established leading operators are also taking the fiber access plunge. (See Slovenia Snacks on Fiber Diet.)
The Middle East also offers FTTH growth opportunities, notes the CEO, due to the growing number of major housing projects being built in the region.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading