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Comms chips

Broadcom Breaking Into GPON?

At long last, it appears Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) is getting into the passive optical networking (PON). market, reportedly with a win at Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) that could put the chipmaker in the Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) FiOS project.

Broadcom hasn't announced anything yet; analyst Andrew Schmitt of Nyquist Capital broke the news with a report issued this morning. (See Broadcom’s PON Chips.)

Broadcom did not immediately return a call for comment.

The chip giant's arrival in PON controller chips has long been anticipated, considering it's got franchises in cable modems and DSL.

Schmitt notes that Broadcom's arrival is a blow to Freescale Semiconductor Inc. , which has been AlcaLu's GPON chip supplier. (See Alcatel, Freescale Partner on GPONs.)

Alcatel-Lucent and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) are Verizon's GPON suppliers for FiOS; Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) was picked, too, but chose to drop out. (See Verizon's Going Strong on GPON and Entropic Reports Q4.)

Most of the action in PON remains on the Ethernet side, as GE-PON continues to dominate deployments in Asia. Partly for that reason, Schmitt doesn't see Broadcom's move as an attempt to clobber the PON controller market -- which wasn't much bigger than $100 million last year anyway, according to The Linley Group .

Broadcom's eyes are more on the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) standard for in-home wiring, Schmitt believes.

"It is clear that Broadcom made the decision to enter this market not for the $100 million market size, but for the opportunity to seize the MOCA market and continue to position itself as the chipset supplier for the connected home," he writes. Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR) has been the dominant MOCA chip supplier so far.

Centillium Communications Inc. , Conexant Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CNXT), and PMC-Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq: PMCS) offer GPON chipsets, and TranSwitch recently announced one. But BroadLight Inc. has been at it longer and claimed more than 35 wins as of last year; Schmitt notes that Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is among them. (See Centillium Intros PON Chips, Conexant Offers PON Chips, PMC Intros Gateway, and TranSwitch Unveils GPON Chips.)

"Broadlight appears to be the only viable competitor to Broadcom at this point," Schmitt writes.

PON-chip players focusing on Ethernet PON include Immenstar -- now owned by Cortina Systems Inc. -- and Teknovus Inc. EPON is also where Passave, the PON-chip company acquired by PMC, first made its name. (See Cortina Buys a PON Plan , Teknovus Claims Korea, Too, and Chip Startups Bank on EPON.)

"We have no information that Broadcom is making a GE-PON device but given its strength in access chips and its efforts in GPON, it is hard to imagine something isn’t in the works," Schmitt writes.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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