RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs

In plain English, these phone companies want big pipes for very high quality video. And to carry that kind of service to 10 million homes in five years will be quite a feat.

"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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mtrehearne 12/5/2012 | 4:02:41 AM
re: RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs I would imagine that Luminent (MRVC) will benefit nicely whichever vendor wins - ALA, MOT, or TLAB

iponthebrain 12/5/2012 | 4:02:40 AM
re: RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs To say that Lightspeed and GPON are mutually exclusive is incorrect in my opinion. The guys at AT&T see FTTN, FTTP, and the migration to GPON as one-in-the-same. GPON was always in the plan for the FTTP rollouts. AT&T's current Lightspeed greenfield accounts use APON today but GPON migration was a heavy factor in the JPC RFP.
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:02:40 AM
re: RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs Does anyone see GPON as a way out of Lightspeed for AT&T? I recall some conspiracy theorists saying a while back that AT&T would back off Lightspeed, using GPON -- a leap to better technology -- as an excuse.
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:02:40 AM
re: RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs Yeah, Craig had a story yesterday about how none of the big components guys are really getting into FTTx.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:02:38 AM
re: RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs Good points.

Do you think GPON costs will be low enough so that someday it might actually be an overlay/aerial product that's more or less on demand -- like ordering cable service today?

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:02:36 AM
re: RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs It would be a more informative article if the question about number of paying subscribers were asked and answered. Quoting the homes passed numbers reminds me of Bill Gate's exchange with the Skype cofounder while at Davos.


Zennstrom, who recently sold his Skype Internet phone service to Ebay for $2.6 billion, says that Skype has been in business for 3-1/2 years... and in that time has signed up 75 million users. I'm floored by the sheer scale of that, until Gates brings us back to earth. He jumps in and asks, How many of the 75 million are paying customers? Zennstrom doesn't say<.i>
iponthebrain 12/5/2012 | 4:02:35 AM
re: RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs Unlike Skype, GPON operators charge for their service. The GPON numbers and FTTP forecasts are the same - GPON being the technology that all FTTP will be based on in 2-3 years.
iponthebrain 12/5/2012 | 4:02:35 AM
re: RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs Sure, the hardware costs are not the issue. Its the trenching costs that get you. Aerial deployment is not too costly - reference FIOS. If the fiber is in the ground or on the pole, the hardware cost delta between HFC and GPON are irrelevant. Verizon's FIOS service should be switched over to GPON within a 2-3 years. Timeframes should be the same for AT&T's current APON service.
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:02:34 AM
re: RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs From the article:

A few years ago the major service providers put out a mid-range forecast when requesting proposals from vendors related to BPON gear. At that time, the three phone companies cumulatively were expecting to serve about 8.1 million BPON connections by the end of 2008.

They're getting pretty close. Verizon alone says it will pass 6 million homes with its FiOS (BPON) network by the end of this year.

What does the author mean when he says "they're getting pretty close" to the 8.1M BPON connections forecasted. How many are really hooked up and will be hooked up by the end of the year? "Homes passed" doesn't pay.
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:02:34 AM
re: RBOCs Aim for 10M GPON Subs Agreed. Plus, in an RFP, they don't talk about sales or consumer uptake. They just want to paint a network picture so that equip vendors will bid accordingly.

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