Access Is In
Broadband access providers look to be blitzing Supercomm 2002 with gear that consolidates broadband and voice services for delivery to business and residential customers.
This week, Anda Networks, Integral Access Inc., and Occam Networks Inc. plan to announce enhancements to gear designed to handle everything from local loop unbundling to adding voice services via remote terminals.
These announcements have a common thread: Equipment providers look to be repositioning all-in-one access boxes for incumbent carriers. They're also looking outside the U.S. for growth in broadband markets such as DSL by announcing support for international data standards such as G.SHDSL, ISDN, and V5.2. Finally, they'll support more packet-based voice traffic at the network edge via the introduction of softswitch features.
"The access [network] is where revenues are generated," says Russ Sharer, vice president of marketing at Occam. "[Service providers] make money by connecting customers and charging them a monthly fee." (See Optical Oracle: Access is Gold .)
Anda Networks plans to demonstrate two new applications for its UAP 2000 box, a device that lets service providers deliver voice and data over a single access network. Previously, Anda pitched its box to carriers as an integrated crossconnect, DSLAM, ATM voice gateway, and access concentrator for CLECs that can't afford a traditional Class 5 switch (see Anda Networks Withdraws IPO Filing).
Now, after having run the box through Telcordia Technologies Inc.'s Osmine gamut, Anda is targeting specific applications rather than just calling itself a cure-all tonic (see Telcordia's Osmine Goldmine). The latest application is loop unbundling. Anda is using its crossconnect features and some beefed up software to provide a box that makes it easier for ILECs to share their local loop facilities with their CLEC competitors (see Anda to Demo Loop Unbundling).
The only question here: Does this run counter to the financial and regulatory trends, which appear to be giving ILECs an edge in their battle to shake free of CLECs? (See RBOCs Ring Up Court Victory.)
Anda's other gambit is its Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) Adaptation Layer Type 2 (AAL2) voice gateway server card, which plugs into the UAP 2000. The card allows service providers to provide voice over DSL (VODSL).
Integral Access is announcing a new customer and new features for its PurePacketNode product. The improvements will allow international carriers to combine ISDN voice and high-speed DSL data traffic on a single copper line and to connect Internet Protocol (IP) access networks to Class 5 circuit switches. The box also supports voice over IP (VOIP), VODSL, and traditional TDM voice services.
Boxes that support packet and circuit voice services and data in the access network can make service providers' lives easier in some ways, according to Ron Westfall, an analyst at Current Analysis. "[It] can reduce the number of network elements in the access side," he says. "But the solution still requires cooperation from several other products to make integrated packet services work throughout the network."
Integral says that the German CLEC Teliko is buying its PurePacketNode gear. The sale was actually made through Quante, a German reseller and systems integrator. The size of the deal was not disclosed.
The company has five customers in the U.S., including Time Warner Telecom Inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC), and five in Germany. In Europe its DSL features are most popular whereas in the States voice is still king. "Nothing's easy, but the fact that we offer converged services does help," says Guy Chenard, Integral's VP of marketing.
Occam Networks will announce a new addition to its Broadband Loop Carrier product line: the BLC 1200 POTS. The original BLC 1200 is a remote terminal box that combines a DLC, DSLAM, media gateway, and copper line tester. It aggregates 24-port ADSL and POTS (plain old telephone system) services and provides four T1 (1.5 Mbit/s) and four Ethernet network links (see Occam Attacks Access ).
The new box, however, will focus on connecting copper phone lines and IP-based softswitches so carriers can deliver packet-based voice services, such as VOIP, in addition to offering traditional voice and data services. Through a combination of the company's BLC 1200 and the new BLC 1200 POTS, a carrier will get 48 voice ports and 28 ports of broadband data, according to Russ Sharer.
Wise equipment vendors won't overhype new services such as VOIP, as they realize that carriers are really looking for a way to protect their traditional (voice-based) revenues and add to those, says Westfall of Current Analysis. "If they've yet to lock in customers, Supercomm can be the make-or-break event horizon for young equipment vendors."
— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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