Eager to get a jump on its prime rivals in the highly competitive cable access business, Calix has added 10G EPON capabilities to its AXOS virtualized network platform and started conducting trials with key MSO customers.
Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX) -- which now competes with traditional cable access vendors like Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), as well as other relative newcomers like Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN) in the cable access space -- is seeking to use the new access product to burnish its credentials with cable operators looking to make the migration to EPON technology. While Calix has largely made its name with backoffice support for GPON technology, cable providers generally prefer to use EPON over their fiber lines, at least in part because it meshes better with the industry's DOCSIS broadband protocols.
Calix is also seeking to leverage the new EPON product to lure cable providers interested in virtualizing their access networks when they upgrade to PON. While such leading cable vendors as Arris, Nokia, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. are now offering ways for cablecos to virtualize their cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) and Converged Cable Access Platforms (CCAPs), the virtualization of cable PON networks and optical line terminal (OLT) equipment at the same time is still frontier territory.
"We're jumping into the cable market with both feet for the first time," declared Geoff Burke, senior director of corporate marketing for Calix. Noting that "a lot of people underestimate the size of the [cable access] market," he and other Calix officials said they're aiming to capture up to 25% of the nearly $2 billion that MSOs spend globally on access equipment each year.
The 10G EPON product is the latest addition to the AXOS Software-Defined Access platform that Calix has been promoting heavily to service providers in recent months. After first introducing its AXOS Sandbox virtual ecosystem in January, Calix has added the AXOS DPx Connector, a DOCSIS Virtualized Network Function (VNF) for integration into existing OSS for both HFC and PON networks, and then, just last week, debuted a Subscriber Management Module that combines access and edge functions. (See Calix Intros AXOS DPx for Cable Operators, Calix Combines Edge, Access on AXOS and Calix Virtualizes Pre-Deployment Integration.)
Besides integrating with any OSS platform, Calix executives contend that the 10G EPON product gives cable operators "a seamless path to SDN" by providing integrated support for key backoffice functions like OLT, routing, IP policy and accounting and, working in conjunction with the AXOS DPx, by eliminating the need to modify workflows when moving to SDN. In addition, they said, it supports "the full breadth of cable operator form factors" for centralized, distributed and virtualized network deployments.
"The competitors are coming," said Doug Blue, solutions marketing director at Calix. "They [cable operators] need to move to a software-defined access network."
Calix officials also note that the EPON product leverages more than 90% of the existing AXOS software modules. So few of the modules need to be changed to support the new 10G EPON capabilities. "Rest assured it's a solid platform out of the gate," Blue said.
With lab trials already underway, company officials are targeting the July/August time frame for product certification testing and MSO customer field trials. Shane Eleniak, VP of Systems Products at Calix, said general availability could come by the fall. "I think we'll start seeing it go to sales in September," he said.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading