PacketFront Takes On AlcaLu, Cisco
Sonesson isn't fazed by the big names. "We have been competing with the larger companies since we started," says the CEO, who notes that PacketFront does already have a few operator customers, including Dutch broadband player Reggefiber BV -- in which KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) has invested, and which is also using Cisco gear -- and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. (du) , the ISP that operates as part of the Dubai Internet City. (See PacketFront Wins Dutch Deal, KPN Invests in FTTH, Reggefiber Uses Cisco for FTTH , and Dubai Picks PacketFront.)
He believes a bigger challenge will be dealing with the different demands of the alternative operators, the customer set most likely to invest in FTTH equipment.
Compared with utilities, the operators "have different purchasing methods. They want high-density chassis equipment, and are more into buying component products than a complete solution." So PacketFront is working hard to decouple the pieces of its solution so it can sell them as individual elements that can fit into a multivendor deployment, if needed.
That brings other challenges, most notably interoperability and meeting operators' requirements for standards-based technology: While the BECS management software has been a lure for smaller, local network builders, it's a proprietary solution.
"We've been working on this for a while -- our solution is deemed to be a bit vendor sticky," says the CEO, finding a new way to describe technology that won't work with anyone else's gear. But soon, he says, "BECS will be able to manage other FTTH equipment. That hasn't happened in the past, but that's what we'll be working on this fall and winter."
Working on GPON
Another thing the Swedish vendor needs to do quickly is get its GPON technology to market, especially if it is to pitch against Alcatel-Lucent and other vendors, including Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , and Nokia Networks .
PacketFront announced a year ago that it would have its GPON gear ready in the first half of 2008, but there's no sign of it yet. (See PacketFront Gets Into GPON.)
"We've been working on it, but during the planning and execution stage we slightly changed our strategy on the end product, and that has caused a delay," says Sonesson, who wouldn't comment on when it might become commercially available.
Despite these significant challenges, Sonesson, is "very optimistic -- we have a good product, a good brand, and the right ability. The market is developing well."
He also has the confidence of his financial backers, European Equity Partners , Amadeus Capital Partners Ltd. , and TLcom Capital Partners Ltd. , which have now injected more than €51 million ($80.6 million) into the access equipment vendor in four rounds of funding. (See PacketFront Gets €15M, New Customer.)
So does the latest round of funding mean that the mooted IPO is now off the agenda? (See PacketFront Gets $27M Deal, Eyes IPO and PacketFront AB.)
"It's delayed," says Sonesson.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading
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