Alloptic Gets Asia-Pac-Happy
Like the songs of David Hasselhoff, Alloptic Inc.'s Ethernet-based Passive Optical Network (EPON) gear appears to be more popular in locations outside the U.S. But that needn't be as bad as it sounds.
Today, Alloptic announced a distribution agreement with Ericsson Australia (Motto: "G'Day, Svens!"). The agreement says that Ericsson will market Alloptic’s products to carriers all over the Asia/Pacific region, including Japan, Korea, and other places where broadband is really taking off. Financial terms were not disclosed (see Alloptic, Ericsson Partner).
The deal isn't exclusive on either side, as Alloptic competitors say they've already seen the company's products marketed to Asia/Pac carriers under the C-COR Corp. (Nasdaq: CCBL) name. Indeed, a few weeks ago, C-COR was braying about how it had "exclusive rights" to market FTTP systems with Alloptic's technology to "cable television MSOs (Multiple System Operators) in the U.S. and certain other countries, as well as other selected domestic and international market segments."
C-COR declined to comment on today's news outside of what was spelled out in the Alloptic press release.
It's also interesting that Alloptic would secure another Aussie distributor, when just a few days ago it announced Bright Telecommunications as a customer, in a deal it got working through Pirelli Australia. (Pirelli is an investor in Alloptic.) [Ed. note: Are they going to throw some Ravioli on the barbi?]
Whatever the terms, a partner as large as Ericsson could give 90-person Alloptic a nice sales nudge over time. In its news release, Ericsson's Asia/Pac VP of fixed-line product sales and marketing, Mitch Lewis, called Alloptic the "perfect complement" to Ericsson's Ethernet-based wireline products.
Even Alloptic's competitors acknowledge Ericsson's market power. "I think this is going to be a validation of the overall Ethernet PON space," says Jim Diestel, VP of product marketing at Salira Optical Network Systems Inc. Though he adds that he feels Salira has had the most Asia/Pac success outside of Japan so far.
Alloptic says one big difference between its Ethernet PON gear and competitors' ATM-based PON gear is that its gear is better suited to carrying IP traffic. "As soon as you start talking [data applications such as] VOIP, Ethernet is a natural fit," says Greg Calton, Alloptic's marketing manager.
In Ethernet PON gear, data is transmitted according to the IEEE's protocol for Ethernet -- in variable-length packets of up to 1,518 bytes. In APONs, data is transmitted in fixed-length 53-byte cells, as called for by the IEEE's ATM protocol. For an APON to carry IP traffic, the packets must be broken into 48-byte segments with a 5-byte header attached to each one, a process that Ethernet proponents say adds to the costs of FTTP networks.
In the U.S., Calton says, carriers are split on which type of PON gear they favor. "If you walked the halls of Verizon or SBC and talked to 10 people, five would say they favored one technology and five would favor the other," he says.
Though Ericsson and Alloptic reportedly paired together in response to this summer's big multicarrier FTTP RFP, the pair weren't mentioned in any of the reported shortlists.
In the Asia/Pac region, a number of carriers are satisfying the demand for broadband services with FTTP solutions, and quite a few are calling for Ethernet as the delivery mechanism.
In October, for instance, NTT Communications Corp. was due to get responses for a request for proposal it issued asking for an "optical line terminal [that] sends and receives Ethernet MAC frames with several optical network units connected through a passive optical network at a communication speed of 1 Gbit/s" (see NTT Calls for Ethernet PON). Calton won't comment on the NTT RFP, other than to giggle coyly and confirm that his company is under a non-disclosure agreement with the carrier.
Alloptic has been commercially deploying systems since 2001 and it has installed 70 central office systems to date. The company has raised more than $80 million in venture capital funding to date.
— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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