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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Diogene 12/5/2012 | 2:56:37 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up YCH, if you are talking about volumes,
the answer is very simple: "NO".

If they are going to sample something, possibly not full specs, photonic industry demonstrated that is able to make also the impossible.

I am hearing this APD and DFB stuff. For 50$?
They want to sell under-cost for returning with "services". Thery are mad and they won't survive, but they are creating a mess.

We'll see...
YCH 12/5/2012 | 2:57:30 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up Will any of the little guys partner with the big guys? Is there any talk going on?

Flexlight, Wave7, others?

Can the big guys really deliver this product by Q1 06?
o-man 12/5/2012 | 2:57:46 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up What about the APD pricing? I hear that future G-PON ONU tri-plexer and bidi's require a rx sen that needs to be achieved by an APD and the delta of a pin vrs apd is too much now?

Also what about the pin and fec?
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 2:57:47 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up
The burst mode CDR is in the upstream direction on the 1310 nm wavelength.

The video overlay is in the downstream direction at the 1550 nm wavelength.

The TIAs you are discussing are on the ONT side and has nothing to do with the burst mode receiver. The issue you are dicussing is a manufacturing problem, not a technical problem and is emminently solvable. Unfortunately, there are so many nay sayers that people don't want to invest in solving the problem.

Best part is that people will stutter if Japan switches to GPON.

mjcyou 12/5/2012 | 2:57:47 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up It is easy to make a standard GE PON TIA work in a GPON system in burst mode in small volume. This problem is more complicated when one adds analog video overlay. I don't believe that Verizon understands the technical issues with analog video overaly. To date the fall out on TIAs designed specifically for this application are very high and thus there is no clear business case to move forward with a GPON system. Look at Tellabs...they or their supplier is losing at least $20-$40 per BPON shipped. If they ship 1M pcs this year they will lose a large amount of money. The GPON will lose more. Verizon will eventually need a healthy supplier for FTTx. The current model does not work. Hopefully a technical breakthrough occurs and all is well but for now a technical breakthrough does not seem evident.
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 2:57:49 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up
Far as I know, CO only for the burst receiver. Flexlight sells a systems product by the way not optics.


o-man 12/5/2012 | 2:57:49 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up 7,

what is the temp range for Flexlight?
Diogene 12/5/2012 | 2:57:51 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up Many The Ways of Business Are (Yoda said).

Big Players (without a good product) may back smaller ones. I think that these decisions do not come from technical guys, but VPs and CEOs exchange favours and weight powers.
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 2:57:51 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up
It is a relatively difficult design. The CDR bit is easier than the AGC bit. But all of this requires some pretty fast logic.

Please note that Flexlight has been shipping 2.4/1.2 in small quantities for over 12 months. So this is not a miracle to solve.

FTTHblog 12/5/2012 | 2:57:51 AM
re: GPON Vendors Line Up What is the issue with the 1.2G Burst Mode Receiver?
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