Will Fujitsu Give Up in GPON?

According to equipment vendor sources, Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. is reevaluating its place in the Gigabit passive optical networking (GPON) business.

Fujitsu's Flashwave 6100 GPON was based on the chassis of its successful Flashwave multiservice provisioning platform (MSPP). The product was well regarded at launch, and even considered a finalist in the Best New Product category of Light Reading's 2006 Leading Lights Awards. (See Fujitsu Preps GPON Plans, Fujitsu Launches GPON, Fujitsu Flashes on GPON, and LR Names Leading Lights Finalists.)

But with no announced customers yet, sources say FNC is wondering whether the access market's just too crowded for its single-product strategy in North America.

FNC announced its entry into the GPON market early last year in response to a request for proposal (RFP) jointly issued by BellSouth, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). (See Azul Plans Proof Program, GPON Vendors Line Up, and GPON RFP Weighs In.)

For that RFP, Fujitsu competed against companies like Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), which ended up winning the GPON business at Verizon. Other companies bidding on the RFP included Hitachi Telecom (USA) Inc. , Nortel Networks Ltd. , and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE). (See RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs and Alcatel Joins Verizon PON Party.)

FNC didn't win there, and it appears to have lost out at Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) as well. Qwest's RFP, issued late last year, called for GPON technology to be used in the fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) portion of its network. (See Qwest Floats Fiber Access RFP.)

Reported vendor wins in the Qwest RFP went to Tellabs for FTTP and fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) equipment, and to Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN) for the fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) portion of the network. Alcatel-Lucent, Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX), Hitachi, and Occam Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: OCNW) also competed for the Qwest RFP. (See Adtran, Tellabs Ring Up Qwest RFP.)

Analysts say the GPON market is still in its infancy, with a great deal of growth still yet to come. According to analyst Simon Sherrington, author of the Light Reading Insider report, "GPON Market Forecast: The Horizon Beyond Verizon," the GPON market will grow from an estimated $1 billion in worldwide sales this year to $4.7 billion in sales by 2011. (See Bright Prospects for GPON.)

"With many vendors expecting the market to be dominated by just four or five players, early success may be critical to capturing the biggest chunks of that market share," writes Sherrington.

A Fujitsu representative declined to comment for this report.

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

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