Motorola Joins BPON Craze

Company's first commercial PON chip aims at broadband deployments described in the FTTx RFP

November 17, 2003

2 Min Read
Motorola Joins BPON Craze

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is eyeing the passive optical networking (PON) space with a new chip announced today for the emerging broadband PON (BPON) market.

PONs use different wavelengths to carry upstream and downstream traffic; the BPON, defined by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standard G.983, adds a third wavelength for broadband applications such as video.

The architecture, an extension of ATM PONs, plays a major role in the requests for proposal issued by BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) in May. Motorola is said to be among the RFP finalists, through its partnership with Quantum Bridge Communications Inc. (See RBOCs Hungry for Fiber, FTTP Booty Tough to Peg, and RBOCs See Three Ways to FTTP ; also Carriers Give FTTP Update and Motorola, Quantum Bridge Team Up.)

Motorola's new chip, the MC92701, targets the optical network termination (ONT) box, the unit attached to each subscriber's home. The chip handles the electrical termination of the BPON signal. It sits between an optical module, which converts the optical signal to electrical form, and a microprocessor, which delivers the data to the proper end equipment: computer, phone, TV, etc.

Motorola is already in the PON game, having built chips for both ATM and Ethernet PONs. But that's all been custom work. The new chip is Motorola's first commercial offering for PONs.

The market is attracting chip startups such as BroadLight Inc. in BPONs and Passave Inc. and Teknovus Inc. on the Ethernet PON side (see Broadlight Banks on PON Expansion, Broadlight Boasts PON Chip Shipments, and Chip Startups Bank on EPON). But Motorola officials say merchant PON chips are still a relative rarity; the competition tends to be ASICs or home-baked, FPGA-based setups. "For the most part when we talk to OEMs, it's proprietary stuff," says Niket Jindal, Motorola marketing manager.

The MC92701 is sampling now, with production volumes slated for the first quarter of 2004.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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