Korea Goes Big on FTTH
KT has picked equipment vendor DASAN Zhone Solutions Inc. to hook up 800,000 EPON subscribers during 2007, officials at PMC-Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq: PMCS) tell Light Reading. PMC is providing EPON chips to Dasan, a relationship announced in July. (See Dasan Picks PMC.)
"Korea is moving fast" now that it's ready to do FTTH, says Dror Sal'ee, PMC's vice pre'sident of mar'keting. "It was like that in DSL, once they got started."
Nobody is surprised that KT is doing PON. The question all along has been the timeframe; as long as PON was expensive enough and DSL cheap enough, Korea was content waiting for fiber-to-the-home. While specific pricing is difficult to come by, PON appears to have crossed the threshold.
"I think forward pricing on EPON components is such that, when it comes to the ONTs and OLTs, it's almost a tossup with VDSL," says Jeff Heynen, a directing analyst with Infonetics Research Inc.
Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean PMC's chip competitors such as Centillium Communications Inc. , ImmenStar Inc. , and Teknovus Inc. are shut out of Korea. The other major Korean telcos, Dacom Corp. and Hanaro Telecom Inc. , are likely to announce FTTH plans, as the KT move could push them into reactive mode, Heynen says.
Moreover, KT still could add a second supplier to its EPON plans. "It's usually between Samsung Corp. and Dasan. It just happens this time, from what I've heard, Dasan has gotten the bulk of the business," Heynen says.
And Korea, while a glamorous win, isn't the largest FTTH play. That honor would still go to Japan, where -- to pick an arbitrary data point -- NTT Group (NYSE: NTT) hooked up 125,000 subscribers to PON in August 2005 alone. (See FTTH Hits Mainstream.)
China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA) is also looking at EPON, but that carrier is demanding some extensions to the standard -- such as its own, proprietary, encryption system and a proprietary means of implementing QOS. "They've done something which is not uncommon with carriers, which is to specify things above the standard," Sal'ee says.
Nonetheless, PMC and Teknovus are falling over each other to vie for a slice of this business, both claiming they've produced chips for OLTs and ONTs conforming to the China Telecom spec. (See Teknovus Tackles China and PMC-Sierra, ZTE Team on PONs.)
Meanwhile, in the background, WDM-PON remains a long-term option. Korea has been toying with the technology, including startup Novera Optics Inc. in some of its dabblings, and equipment maker Fujitsu expects to eventually support WDM-PON. (See Novera's Got a New PON Spin and Fujitsu Preps GPON Plans.)
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading