Fujitsu Preps GPON Plans
In fact, the company has big plans that will eventually bring it to the stage of wavelength-division-multiplexed PONs -- but that could be more than five years off, officials say.
It's GPON that has the company's attention in the here-and-now. Using an internally developed system, Fujitsu is bidding on the RFP jointly distributed by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), says Randy Eisenach, a market development manager for Fujitsu.
GPON has become a hot target in recent months. Nortel Networks Ltd. reportedly has a GPON system in the works, and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) is replying to the RFP as well, according to a recent report from Morgan Keegan & Company Inc. analyst Simon Leopold. The expected PON candidates are in there, too, including Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX) (through its Optical Solutions acquisition), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA). (See Nortel: Joining the GPON Race?, GPON Vendors Line Up, and Calix to Buy OSI.)
Why the landslide of vendors? Many think GPON has the potential to reach high volumes quickly, given the RBOCs' ambitious plans to deploy as early as this year. (See GPON RFP Weighs In.)
As evidence, chipmaker BroadLight Inc. , which began sampling its GPON parts this week, says it's got Taiwanese manufacturer Askey Inc. among its alpha customers. "To us, that's a big indication, when you have Taiwanese vendors jumping into the market early. Usually, they wait for volume," says Dan Parsons, BroadLight director of marketing. (See BroadLight Samples GPON and BroadLight Wins in Taiwan.)
Fujitsu sells EPON systems in Asia, to the tune of about 30,000 customer-premises units per month, but hasn't had any presence in North American PON.
Its GPON architecture "was developed specifically with the North American market in mind," Eisenach says. For example, it's got a Sonet uplink in addition to the usual Ethernet connections.
More important, Fujitsu is providing support for coarse WDM (CWDM), providing extra wavelengths to accommodate bandwidth growth. The idea is to let the RBOCs go years without having to replace the optical network terminal (ONT), the box that sits at the end user's location. Individual ONTs are built to be cheap, but a mass upgrade of them would be costly and cumbersome, Eisenach says.
The use of CWDM is "kind of an intermediate step," Eisenach says. It's the precursor to the WDM-PON idea being pitched by startup Novera Optics Inc. , in which every user would get a dedicated wavelength -- substantially increasing the total bandwidth being sent. Today's PONs split a single downstream wavelength among multiple users -- usually 32.
Most companies agree WDM-PON is the endgame for fiber access. The challenge has been in getting the prices to a reasonable level. Novera claims to have made strides there and has landed its technology in trials with KT Corp. (See Novera's Got a New PON Spin.)
Fujitsu is exploring possible technologies for WDM-PON, including an architecture that places a semiconductor optical amplifier reflector (SOAR) at the user's terminal. The WDM wavelength would travel to the terminal, then get reflected and sent back upstream. This way, the receiver on the ONT side can be color-blind, with a generic ONT handling any wavelength.
WDM-PON remains an R&D project for Fujitsu, though, and probably won't roll out for five to seven years, Eisenach says.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading