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Ultra-Broadband

GPON RFP Weighs In

The three largest United States service providers, the RBOCs, have released their anticipated request for proposals (RFP) for GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Networking) technology -- and the document is huge.

The RFP document outlines a common technology approach to a potentially inexpensive optical networking access network that will allow large service providers to push fiber connections closer to homes and offices. The carriers have teamed together, hoping that by achieving common standards, they can drive down pricing through mass production.

Sources confirmed the RFP has been received and it's a hefty volume -- but wouldn't divulge the page counts or the weight. (Could it kill a cockroach? A squirrel? A small dog?) But one early report says the document could hurt when dropped on the foot. (If anybody knows the exact dimensions, please email [email protected].)

A deep level of detail is expected in this kind of document, but there's an added twist: The RFP reportedly accommodates the needs of all three RBOCs, and those needs don't always coincide. For example, (NYSE: VZ) is delivering TV over fiber by using an RF channel, the way cable companies do it, whereas (NYSE: BLS) and (NYSE: SBC) are plunging straight into IPTV.

The RFP has been anticipated for much of the year, as Light Reading has reported. (See GPON Vendors Line Up and RBOCs Gearing up for Gigabit PONs.)

Now comes the fun part, as vendors race to meet the RFP requirements -- which include volume shipment of equipment in the first quarter of 2006. It's an aggressive timetable, as SBC and Verizon both have said they want to deploy GPON starting next year.

(NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) would appear to be the frontrunners for the GPON contracts, having driven the RBOCs' fiber plans so far. (See Mais Alors! Alcatel Bags $1.7B SBC Deal , Tellabs Secures BellSouth Biz, and Moto Gets a Piece of Verizon FTTP.)

Alcatel rules the roost at SBC, as far as fiber goes, while Tellabs is working with the other two RBOCs. Motorola has snuck into the game, too, being named a second source at Verizon.

Table 1: RBOC Relationships
BellSouth SBC Verizon
Alcatel
IP DSLAM vendor
Lead vendor, systems integrator
for Project Lightspeed
--
Motorola
--
--
2nd supplier for PON
Tellabs
FTTC vendor, exclusive
--
BPON supplier
for FTTH
Source: Light Reading




But Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA) and (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) both have announced GPON plans and could be forces to reckon with. (See RBOCs Gearing up for Gigabit PONs and Hitachi Intros GPON .)

Optical Solutions Inc. has deployed GPON to smaller U.S. carriers but would need a partner to reach the hearts of RBOCs, officials have said. Calix Networks Inc., which recently announced plans to acquire the company, might have the necessary ties, having won a deal at (NYSE: S) through the help of reseller (NYSE/Toronto: NT). (See Calix to Buy OSI and Nortel, Calix Get Access at Sprint.)

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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