Tellabs Edges Into GPON
That's the box that came to Tellabs when it bought Vivace Networks, and it's better known for MPLS capabilities than for access-networks prowess. By adding GPON blades to an 8800, Tellabs wants to create a new type of box mixing flow-based QOS with GPON. (See Tellabs Snags Vivace for $135M.)
This is part of Tellabs' future plans, and the company isn't discussing when the GPON cards might be announced. "It's still a ways off. It's not a function of technical limitations but of how soon the market will need what we want to do," says Stuart Bennington, Tellabs' director of portfolio marketing.
With details scarce, it's yet to be seen how groundbreaking the GPON-enabled 8800 would be. (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), for one, claims to have its bases covered with its 7342 Intelligent Services Access Manager, which handles QOS for Ethernet and Internet Protocol (IP) services, a spokeswoman says. (See Alcatel Intros GPON OLT.)
The 160-Gbit/s capacity of the 8800 is "in the wheelhouse of large operators and how they view GPON deployment," Bennington says, but he admits it's overkill for Tellabs' smaller customers. For them, Tellabs is planning to supplement its 1000 series -- the former AFC AccessMax -- with GPON cards. (See Tellabs Buys AFC for $1.9 Billion.)
There's been talk that the 1000 doesn't have the backplane for GPON, but Tellabs believes the system is suitable for the first wave of GPON deployments. "It certainly can handle GPON. It's not, capacity-wise, where the 8800 is, but remember, a lot of the GPON traffic for video is multicast," so the requirements could be lower than expected, Bennington says.
Tellabs' plans are hatching amid a flurry of GPON-related activity.
On Tuesday, Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA) declared its intentions to get into GPON, and U.S.-based AFL Telecommunications announced a reseller deal for FlexLight Networks Inc.'s GPON, targeting the municipal and greenfield networks that have been such fertile ground for Optical Solutions Inc. Even the component front got some love, with Xponent Photonics Inc. producing a GPON reference design. (See Hitachi Intros GPON , AFL Resells FlexLight, and Xponent Intros Ref Design.)
Vendors might be motivated by the imminent request for proposal (RFP) from the three U.S. RBOCs. But it's more likely the GPON wave was scheduled around two conferences this week: The FTTH Conference and Expo in Las Vegas and the Broadband World Forum in Madrid. (See RBOCs Gearing up for Gigabit PONs.)
(NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE), whose work with PONs dates back to the 1990s, will be joining the GPON game as well. The company has begun shipping systems for trials and plans to have general availability by March of 2006 -- just in time for the first-quarter deadline expected in the RBOCs's RFP.
Given GPON's higher bandwidth -- 2.5 Gbit/s downstream and 1.2 Gbit/s upstream -- Siemens had to develop a new OLT. But for the optical network terminal (ONT), which sits on the subscriber's end of a PON, Siemens will reuse the box designed for BPON, Stefan Neidlinger, Siemens VP of solutions management for PON systems, says.
Siemens's GPON plans first emerged in May with a win in Kuwait. Neidlinger wouldn't discuss where the other trials were being held, although he did concede GPON is a U.S./Europe play for now. While Asian carriers are said to be considering GPON, their focus -- and their capital spending -- is still with EPON. (See Kuwait Opts for FTTH and PON & FTTx Update.)
While chip vendors including BroadLight Inc., Freescale Semiconductor Inc. (NYSE: FSL), and Passave Inc. have announced GPON plans, Siemens had to use its own chips for GPON in order to get the systems in production by 2006. "They will only have integrated chips next year, so today we are working with FPGAs," Neidlinger says. "That's why other vendors will only go next year if they rely on commercial chips." (See Chips Draw PON Plans and Alcatel, Freescale Partner on GPONs.)
In a separate GPON development, Optical Solutions released a VOIP feature for its GPON equipment. The software offering fits into the ONT and converts TDM telephone calls into VOIP, so they can be carried across an IP network.
The feature is tailored toward carriers that want to use VOIP to carry traditional telephone calls, says John Griffin, executive vice president with Optical Solutions.
Other PON vendors have had similar ideas. Tellabs offers a similar SIP capability in hardware, with plans to make that available as a software upgrade by the end of the year, Bennington says.
Meanwhile, the EPON camp had some news cooking as well. Alloptic Inc. announced today it was picked for an IP video rollout from a Houston upstart called Optical Entertainment Network (OEN). (See IPTV Startup Has Big Plans for Texas.)
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading