RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs
"Naturally, we think these numbers are somewhat inflated," writes Notter. "So often, RFP projections stretch the bounds of what the RBOCs really believe is possible in the interest of getting the best volume pricing discounts. Nonetheless, the forecasts should be interesting for investors."
But there's reason to believe the RBOCs are more serious than ever about supercharged access networks, thanks to ramped up competition from the cable companies.
"The cable companies have been watching all of the various RBOC next-gen broadband and triple play initiatives with interest, but they haven’t really been losing any sleep over AT&T’s Project Lightspeed -- because it’s largely based on copper to the home, with limited bandwidth for video," says Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perrin. "They don’t see it as much of a threat."
Because cable providers and satellite companies are boosting the capability to offer HDTV to multiple sets in the home, the phone companies are feeling pressure to provide a significant bandwidth boost to their access networks, but at the same time deploying the technology in a wide enough scale so that its economically feasible. That need for scale and audience size is also a small part of what is driving AT&T to bid $67 billion to buy BellSouth.
The move to fiber could accelerate with more competition. In contrast to AT&T, Verizon's FiOS TV efforts -- consisting of BPON deployments so far -- "have generated a lot of fear within MSOs, because the MSOs realize that fiber will deliver enough bandwidth to really compete with cable video offerings and steal their customers," Perrin says.
An aggressive move to GPON is only going to heighten that fear, he says. "If GPON plays out within the telcos, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the MSO defensive posture increase substantially -- meaning getting back to the basics of video and increased R&D efforts aimed at leapfrogging the telcos in the battle for video."
Verizon was contacted for this story and had no comment. AT&T was also contacted and did not respond by press time.
— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading
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