Cable Tech

Siemens Enters BPON Business

Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) is getting set to announce its entry into the BPON business with a brand new family of optical network terminals (ONTs). The company told Light Reading that next week it will officially go head-to-head with Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), Entrisphere Inc., and others for the all-important customer premises piece of new fiber-to-the-home networks.

The company is also set to divulge that it has completed interoperability testing with multiservice access vendor Calix Networks Inc.. Siemens and Calix say they're working together in several carrier accounts, in addition to promoting G.983 BPON solutions to make FTTP network deployments simpler and quicker for wireline service providers to deploy.

Siemens' involvement in the BPON space isn't a total surprise. The company's venture capital arm has been funding one of the world's only ONT chipset providers for more than a year, giving it a chance to learn about the technology (see Siemens Invests in BroadLight and BroadLight Gets More Financing).

"Supply of the ONT is one of the major constraints for FTTP deployments today," says Kevin Walsh, VP of marketing at Calix (see Calix, Entrisphere Sprint Forward). He adds that Calix, along with Siemens, is "actively deploying in a number of U.S. ILEC accounts."

Siemens won't yet say who its ONT customers are, but the company does make two interesting notes about its entry into the BPON ONT biz:

  • Siemens says it has a high likelihood of success given its dominance in the market for DSL modems and other customer premises gear -- the business it entered after buying Efficient Networks for $1.5 billion in April 2001.

  • Siemens says that just because several RBOC equipment vendor choices have been announced in various fiber deployments, doesn't mean it can't win some of that business for itself. "The opportunity is always open to go out and win new business," says Patrick Fitzgerald, VP of broadband marketing for Siemens.

Interestingly, these points are nearly identical to those being made by Entrisphere, which launched itself into the BPON ONT space just last week. Entrisphere says its CEO Mark Floyd, who founded Efficient Networks, is the man with the expertise necessary to make hay selling customer premises gear to big carriers for their new fiber networks (see Entrisphere Intros Gear, Gets Grande and Entrisphere Scores $75M Round).

And Entrisphere, too, points out there is still opportunity to win business even after an RBOC has publicly made its equipment vendor choices.

Both vendors make all kinds of claims regarding interoperability with other vendor kits, as carriers require in most deployments. The real separation appears to be each vendor's positioning in terms of innovation and supply.

Entrisphere says its ONT allows for longer cable runs between the power supply and the ONT itself, and that the ONT's electronics are removable from the ONT housing -- a carrier perk for households that move, change service, or just don't want to use the advanced services within their reach.

But Siemens is coming to bat with more product line depth by announcing six different ONTs -- one for most kinds of carrier network configuration. Its plan is to address up-front the kind of concerns about volume and pricing that sent Tellabs shopping for an additional ONT supply (see Tellabs Vacuums Up Vinci).

Table 1: Siemens' BPON ONT/ONU Family
Model Number Description POTS 10/100 BaseT CATV RF Return Broadband DS-1
7100B (7101B) SFU/ONT 4 1 1 1 0 0
7151B ESFU/ONT 0 1 0 0 0 0
7200B (7201B) SBU/ONT 8 1 1 1 0 1
7300B (7301B) MTU/ONT 8 4 1 1 0 4
7400B (7401B) MDU24/ONU 24 Up to 12 Ethernet 1 1 Up to 24 ADSL2+ / Up to 24 VDSL 0
7450B (7451B) MDU4/ONT 8 4 4 1 0 4
Source: Siemens, Light Reading
(Model Number) denotes model with optional RF return
SFU = Single Family Unit
ESFU = Ethernet Single Family Unit
RJ = The Big Unit
SBU = Single Business Unit
MTU = Multi-Tenant Unit
MDU = Multi-Dwelling Unit

"There's not anyone in that space that can scale to hit the kind of volumes that operators are going to want," says Fitzgerald.

In North America, Siemens' new gear will compete with Tellabs, Entrisphere, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Carrier Access Corp. (Nasdaq: CACS). Outside North America, the major players include Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA) and ECI Telecom Ltd. (Nasdaq/NM: ECIL).

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

Sign In