Adtran, Tellabs Ring Up Qwest RFP
Qwest's fiber RFP, as reported here in December, calls for a wide variety of technologies, including fiber to the premises (FTTP), fiber to the curb (FTTC), fiber to the node (FTTN), and upgrades to areas "currently fed by copper, digital loop carrier systems, and/or fiber multiplexers." (See Qwest Floats Fiber Access RFP.)
Industry sources close to Qwest and its vendors say Tellabs has won the FTTC and FTTP portions of the RFP. Adtran was the winner of the FTTN section, the part of the deal that will likely see the highest volume of activity in the near future.
Adtran and Tellabs had no comment for this article. Qwest had not replied to further requests for comment at the time this article was published.
The vendor selection comes right after Qwest articulated its consumer video strategy. The four-prong approach includes Qwest taking fiber to its remote terminals and upgrading the buried plant in most of its territory. For that job, the biggest part of this RFP, Qwest favored Adtran's Total Access 5000 product, which can go in central offices, remote terminals, or remote nodes. (See Adtran Touts Total Access.)
Judging by Qwest's RFP description, multiservice access devices like Adtran's Total Access 5000 and the Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX) C7 seemed a shoo-in. According to sources familiar with the carrier's plans, the RFP called for a single next-generation access platform that had IP uplinks and could support all three architectures (FTTP, FTTC, and FTTN).
This would mark an interesting win for Adtran in that its job is usually that of a fast-follower or secondary supplier in networks where Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) or one of the other major vendors wins the lion's share of the business. Now sources say Adtran has bested Alcatel-Lucent in this RFP, as well as several others, including Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), whose fiber-access gear is slated to be replaced.
For that Motorola (Next Level Communications) replacement business, and for its greenfield FTTP business, Qwest gave the nod to the Tellabs 1150 Multi-Service Access System. Tellabs already has a customer for that product family in the BellSouth territory of the new AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), so having another big RBOC supporting it is probably welcome news. (See Tellabs Upgrades Access.) The Tellabs product team, in the past, has said that when its 1150 unit is deployed up to 500 feet from the end customer, in an FTTC network, it can enable speeds from 80 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s per connected home.
While Qwest is installing FTTP in new neighborhoods, it also believes that DSL will be a big player in its video services plans. Early last week, Qwest's VP of product, Dan Yost, told Light Reading that the carrier's planned Internet video offerings through Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows Live are one example of a way whereby it can take advantage of increased DSL bandwidth afforded by upgrading its legacy FTTC plant and taking fiber to the node throughout all its territories. (See Qwest's Quest for Video .)
The carrier is evaluating IPTV services but says it won't pull the trigger on a deployment until it feels the technologies are more mature and the service is something that's truly different from what consumers can get from cable operators. "Today it's not as differentiated as I think it will be," Yost told Light Reading.
To date, Qwest hasn't put any hard numbers out regarding how fast and widespread its FTTN updates will be. With its FTTC network, Qwest passes 500,000 consumers, mostly in the Phoenix area. And it's assumed that its FTTP installed base, comprised of mostly new developments, will be small as well.
Analysts feel that because of its debt load, Qwest won't be shaking up the consumer video space or IPTV market in a major way, but its RFP decision can improve the lot for smaller vendors.
"Our sense has been that Qwest has been dipping its toes, rather than assuming the risk that comes with testing someone else's technology," says Morgan Keegan & Company Inc. analyst Simon Leopold. "They're leaving it to Verizon and AT&T to shake out the market, and therefore we don't see Qwest having a material effect on the market.
"However, with regards to Adtran, as a fairly small company, even a fairly small win can have a material effect."
— Phil Harvey, Managing Editor, and Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading