Startup vendor Tibit Communications announced a $13.8 million Series A funding round today, while also picking up a key partnership endorsement from leading European cable operator Liberty Global. The news proves how ripe the access network industry is for disruption, and potentially how much of an impact one small startup company can have.
Tibit Communications makes MicroPlug products that offer an option for virtualizing traditional optical line terminal (OLT) and optical network terminal (ONT) hardware. As part of the trend toward creating a Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD), Tibit is working to shift as many of the traditional functions in a passive optical network (PON) terminal into software (i.e. network functions virtualization), while condensing the PON MAC and PHY into as small a form factor as possible for service providers to deliver fiber-to-the-home services.
With this approach, operators can house just an Ethernet switch and the MicroPlug module at the edge of the network, cutting down on space requirements and driving the central office toward a future that is more about standard off-the-shelf hardware rather than expensive proprietary gear.
Equally interesting, Tibit isn't only targeting traditional telecom providers with its MicroPlug solutions. While a telco would connect the MicroPlug OLT at a central office location, a cable company could also plug the module into a high-density headend, or into an Ethernet switch at a cable node site. And that's where the Liberty Global endorsement comes into play. Tibit previously submitted its MicroOLT solution with AT&T to the Open Compute Project , but Liberty Global now offers greater validation for the technology in the cable industry.
Tibit isn't the only company to make a PON module for the cable industry. Nokia, for example, introduced its EPON module as part of its distributed access architecture solution at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo last fall. (See Nokia Debuts Virtualized Cable Access Platform.)
However, Tibit CTO Ed Boyd claims his company's differentiator is its product's small size and low power requirements.
"It's the size of a pack of gum, and it's under three watts," says Boyd.
Tibit also offers software with the MicroPlug hardware that it says can connect with "industry leading Software Defined Networking (SDN) orchestrators."
There's no official word yet about Tibit's new investment partners deploying Tibit's MicroPlug products, but it's a fair bet that trials are in the works. Boyd notes that, "The investors for Tibit are all strategic investors. They're either operators or system vendors that would use our product."
- CORD Fuels Access Virtualization Push
- Broadband's Multidimensional Shift & Why It Needs to Embrace the Cloud
- Comcast Becomes First Cable Co to Join CORD & ONOS
- Cisco Makes a Play for the Next-Gen Central Office
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading