Ericsson Joins Cost-Cutting WDM-PON Team

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has joined a European research team that's aiming to tackle one of the biggest barriers to the uptake of next-generation broadband access technology Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) PON -– the current high cost of the components needed to deliver a wavelength to each customer's home.

News of the development adds weight to the argument that WDM PON, regarded by many as an access technology for the next decade, is rapidly becoming this summer's high-speed broadband hot topic. (See WDM PON: Sooner Rather Than Later? and NXTcomm Preview: GPON & WDM-PON.)

That's because the Ericsson group is not alone in tackling the issues surrounding WDM PON's potential deployment.

Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), along with Orange (NYSE: FTE), access equipment vendor Intracom Holdings S.A. , and a bunch of European research and development institutes, have teamed up for the Scalable Advance Ring-Based Passive Dense Access Network Architecture (Sardana) WDM-PON project. (See Tellabs Lays Out WDM-PON Plan.)

And the two groups have more than just their technology focus in common: Both R&D projects have received funding from the European Union. The Ericsson group is called GigaWaM (Gigabit access passive optical network using wavelength division multiplexing), with optical components vendor Ignis Photonyx AS saying it initiated the group and is leading the group's work at one of its sites in Denmark. (See Ignis Gets EU Grant.)

The eight-strong group, which also includes two German firms, component manufacturer FiconTEC GmbH and laser diode vendor VertiLas GmbH , is focused on developing low-cost "application specific optical components... with a high level of integration in addition to new manufacturing processes" with a view to enabling a WDM-PON system cost per subscriber that's lower than current GPON systems can manage.

According to the GigaWaM group, "even the cheapest WDM PON solution costs two to three times as much as GPON." Now the partners have until the end of March 2011 to find ways to bring those costs down dramatically, and have estimated the total cost of their research at €9.12 million ($14.3 million).

And Ignis Photonyx isn't holding back on where it sees the market going. "WDM PON will replace today’s GPON technology, and the aim of the GigaWaM project is to develop a prototype of a WDM PON optical sub system," states the company in its press release.

The involvement of Ericsson shows that the Swedish giant is not wedded to just one flavor of PON: It acquired GPON specialist Entrisphere for $290 million early in 2007 and recently showed off its 10-Gig GPON developments. (See GPON Gets a 10G Look and Ericsson Buys Entrisphere.)

The three-year Saradana project has attracted €2.6 million ($4.1 million) in backing from the EU, according to Community Research and Development Information Service for Science, Research, and Development (CORDIS) records.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

cw.774 12/5/2012 | 3:37:17 PM
re: Ericsson Joins Cost-Cutting WDM-PON Team Here finally is the missing hole(s) from the first WDM-PON installment.

Still... Europe and cost cutting... doesn't really jump to the forefront of my mind. But Government subsidized research sure does. Sooo.. here goes another short lived manufacturing cycle that gets exported to who knows where (we're talking some time after 2011!)
vlui 12/5/2012 | 3:37:17 PM
re: Ericsson Joins Cost-Cutting WDM-PON Team "The three-year Saradana project has attracted Gé¼2.6 million ($4.1 million) in backing from the EU..."

$4.1M in 3 years by all these corporations combined? What kind of R&D budget is this? and what can they accomplish with it? Does this say something about how serious the industry is about WDM-PON?

It sounds like they are talking about "prototypes" by 2011. What about ADC/Novera's system shipping TODAY? How do their cost compare to GPON? One can only project their cost to come down even further by 2011.
cw.774 12/5/2012 | 3:37:17 PM
re: Ericsson Joins Cost-Cutting WDM-PON Team Just agreeing here I guess, but really.. It's truly odd that sardana related news and ADC/Novera chugging-along-project seam to appear mutually exclusive in media.
digits 12/5/2012 | 3:37:16 PM
re: Ericsson Joins Cost-Cutting WDM-PON Team Just to clarify:

"The three-year Saradana project has attracted Gé¼2.6 million ($4.1 million) in backing from the EU..."

So Gé¼2.6 million ($4.1 million) is how much the European Union (EU) is contributing to the project -- that is not the total cost of the project.

I don't have the Sardana total projected cost currently.

alandal 12/5/2012 | 3:37:16 PM
re: Ericsson Joins Cost-Cutting WDM-PON Team At component/system levels, WDM would only add another layer of costs above transceivers. Transceivers are always needed regardless. The potential cost savings are really at network level and long term operating costs.
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:37:13 PM
re: Ericsson Joins Cost-Cutting WDM-PON Team Is this effort in any way an attempt to recreate the integration already achieved by INFN? At least at an operational level?
boozon 12/5/2012 | 3:37:10 PM
re: Ericsson Joins Cost-Cutting WDM-PON Team EU has spent millions and millions of Euros subsidising R&D. Can anyone quote a product that came out of all this effort?
^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 3:37:09 PM
re: Ericsson Joins Cost-Cutting WDM-PON Team OK, do you want examples from our industry or is examples from other industry's that are helped by the R&D euro's?

ok... how about the EDFA, the technology that underpins the entire optical communications industry.

Or, what about MP3, which you probably have content on your pc that requires this encoding.

Or, hmmmm, how about H264 video encoding

or....well lets see, what about the pump laser?

or.. at a more direct scale, what about the small memory devices that are inside every iPod? (spin out of Infineon makes those...based on EU research).

There are LOTS more examples. Try not to be so euro biased.

boozon 12/5/2012 | 3:36:53 PM
re: Ericsson Joins Cost-Cutting WDM-PON Team Thanks for this interesting list of achievements, sailboat.
I'm not disputing the quality of the European R&D community, nor its significant contrinbutions to science and technology.
I'm more concerned by the effectiveness of the EU funded collaborative programs where relatively small amounts of money are given to many programs whose participants are not always the most relevant ones in the continent or in the field.
As a researcher I had good fun when I was invloved in one of them; but as a taxpayer...
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