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Ultra-Broadband

GPON Vendors Line Up

The U.S. RBOCs seem unusually aggressive with their plans to deploy GPON and, with some vendor strategies still a secret, analysts say some of the most obvious names won't necessarily win an upcoming request for proposal (RFP).

Favored status is likely to fall on (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), which are already involved in big RBOC access projects, but analysts say GPON newcomer Hitachi Telecom (USA) Inc. could pull an upset.

And another big name, (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE), discussed GPON plans at last week's Broadband World Forum, potentially creating more trouble for the incumbent equipment vendors.

"Vendors who can demonstrate technical compliance, timeline (1Q06 availability) and price targets will at least get a strong look from the RBOCs," writes Teresa Mastrangelo, analyst with Broadbandtrends.com, in an email to Light Reading. She admits, though, that RBOCs tend to stick with incumbent suppliers.

The vendors are targeting an RFP that (NYSE: BLS), (NYSE: SBC), and (NYSE: VZ) are expected to jointly issue in November. Sources say the RFP describes a network with 2.5 Gbit/s downstream and 1.25 Gbit/s upstream bandwidth being split among 32 subscribers, with an option to increase the split to 64. GPON appears to be a critical cog in the IPTV plans of all three -- particularly for SBC and Verizon, which have publicly stated GPON is in their plans for 2006. (See RBOCs Gearing up for Gigabit PONs.)

So far, Alcatel, Motorola, and Tellabs have driven the RBOCs' fiber access plans. SBC has chosen Alcatel as the systems integrator and lead supplier for its Project Lightspeed. BellSouth is using Alcatel and Tellabs equipment for fiber buildouts, while Verizon is using Tellabs' BPON products with Motorola recently named as a second supplier. (See Mais Alors! Alcatel Bags $1.7B SBC Deal , Tellabs Secures BellSouth Biz, and Moto Gets a Piece of Verizon FTTP.)

But the GPON race is still very much up in the air.

Tellabs, for one, may not make the RBOCs' stated deadline. Word has it the RBOCs want GPON equipment to be shipping in volume by the first quarter of 2006, for probable deployment in mid-2006.

Alcatel and Motorola have announced their GPON plans and appear on target for that timing. Tellabs hasn't made a formal announcement, although it's got GPON plans, too. Tellabs wants to apply its 1000 series to GPON as well as BPON; more ambitiously, the company plans to outfit the Tellabs 8800 edge routers with GPON cards to create a new breed of platform for the central office. (See Alcatel Says 'Oui' to GPON and Tellabs Edges Into GPON.)

But, given the rushed timing, it appears Tellabs has the most to lose.

"A shift to GPON may provide risk to current FTTC vendor Tellabs (AFC) should BellSouth opt for another GPON supplier with more aggressive GPON rollout schedules," writes analyst Simon Leopold of Morgan Keegan & Company Inc. in a note issued Friday -- although he adds that BellSouth isn't showing the aggressiveness of SBC or Verizon.

Tellabs' bigger risk lies with Verizon, he adds, considering that carrier's aggressiveness and its choice of Motorola as a second source.

Leopold calls Hitachi, which only recently announced GPON products, the "dark horse" candidate and believes Verizon may seriously consider the vendor. (See Hitachi Intros GPON .)

Mastrangelo agrees: "Hitachi may be an interesting vendor to watch, especially with their recent announcement -- but they will have to overcome a lack of U.S. presence and political currency."

And what about the reigning king of GPON deployments? Optical Solutions Inc. is notching dozens of wins among U.S. municipalities and smaller service providers -- albeit with GPON at half the speed requested by the RBOCs. But they're not exactly "in" with the RBOCs. "I am not sure they have the scale and scope on their own," Mastrangelo says.

Optical Solutions agrees it needs a hand for an RBOC win. "We feel like we need to have a partner that's acceptable to the big companies," says John Griffin, the company's executive vice president. "They want to have somebody that has $100 million on the balance sheet."

The toughest part of the RFP could lie in keeping all three RBOCs happy. The three companies' networks are different, and it stands to reason that the joint RFP will ask vendors to accede to all three sets of demands.

"The challenge will be the expected diverse requirements between the RBOCs -- such as continuing support for the RF overlay at Verizon as well as different ONT [optical network terminal] options," Mastrangelo writes.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 2:58:09 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up Left these guys off the list inadvertently, but you have to figure they'll be bidding on the RFP too.

But really -- how much chance do the little guys have here?
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 2:58:08 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up
"But really -- how much chance do the little guys have here?"

None.

SBC is buried with rollout (laughs) of LightSpeed and is in bed with Alcatel. BellSouth has their own IPTV thing going on and if asked will tell you they won't deploy GPON. Verizon is cooking with one vendor and is working to bring a second online. A third would be too much work for their IT team.

So, the point of this RFP is pricing for SBC from Alcatel and Tellabs/Motorola for Verizon.

seven
firstmiler 12/5/2012 | 2:58:07 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up Yeah,

Wave7, AllOptic, and even other inconsequential fish like World Wide Packets will no-doubt quixotically chase this "opportunity".

Zero chance that any niche player wins the RFPs from the big boys unless/until they get OEM'd/purchased by a big player.

FM
wwatts 12/5/2012 | 2:58:06 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up firstmile:
"Terawave is Teradone. Stick a fork in them. Their product cannot play in the RBOCs. They traded off on those requirements about $18M ago."

You are talking about BPON, where our product is not FSAN compliant. GPON is a whole new ball game and we will be compliant. As far as playing with the RBOCs, you may be right, the timing on the RFPs eliminates just about everyone but Alcatel, and even they may not have a finished product by Q1 2006.

mjcyou 12/5/2012 | 2:58:06 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up Aren't there some major technical issues that have to be overcome for any of the vendors to meet the GPON spec?

From what I can tell, Vendors are selling vaporware and so far...no one has caught on.
wwatts 12/5/2012 | 2:58:06 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up
Terawave Communications is developing GPON. We are partnered with Fujitsu (announced about 6 months ago). Fujitsu has already won part of BT's 21 Century network access program. That deployment includes GPON, so you can assume that Haiwei is working on GPON as well as they won the other part of the access sid. I don't know how aggressively we (Fujitsu/Terawave) are pursuing the SBC and Verizon RFPs.

firstmile 12/5/2012 | 2:58:06 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up Terawave is Teradone. Stick a fork in them. Their product cannot play in the RBOCs. They traded off on those requirements about $18M ago.
...first
naturalwonders 12/5/2012 | 2:58:05 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up "Aren't there some major technical issues that have to be overcome for any of the vendors to meet the GPON spec?"

Beside the extensive technical and interoperability issues GPON must surmount the the $ issues is a big factor. Mfgs are already offering EFM standard GEPON ONUs in the $70 range. This is in line with UTStarcom CEO's prediction that GEPON is going to $100
wwatts 12/5/2012 | 2:58:05 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up mjcyou writes:
"Aren't there some major technical issues that have to be overcome for any of the vendors to meet the GPON spec?

From what I can tell, Vendors are selling vaporware and so far...no one has caught on."

The big technical issue to overcome is the 1.2G burst mode receiver. There aren't any other major technical issues. That is a major hurdle however, and as you imply, you shouldn't trust anyones's specs in that area until you have a product you can test in your lab.

Diogene 12/5/2012 | 2:58:03 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up Dear LR friends, for my knowledge, there are different technical issues for GPON...

It was said: Burst Mode Receiver. True, but there's more:

20km for GPON link with a FP.
Does anyone know that FP @ 1310nm will be dispersion limited around 12km?

Also some power constraint for 32 or 64 branching.

What about electrical XTALK in the transceiver?

Moreover....

COST OF ONT:
- 100$ ONT COST:
If you consider 50$ for the optical block (3 wav.), 10 bugs for the transceiver electronics and package, another 20$ for ONT electronics, that is: 70$ only for BOM of the device... than the rugged enclosure, and other "real world" cost of product, Mr.Tellabs will run out of cash or at least will disappoint a lot of shareholders.

Diogene
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