The limited fiber buildout might be just the nudge Huawei needs in North America, according to one analyst

Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

February 12, 2010

2 Min Read
Google's FTTH: Does Huawei Win?

The fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) initiative launched by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has spawned a lot of talk about the search engine giant competing with service providers. But it's possible the parties most in danger are the traditional access equipment vendors.

That's because Google will want to do FTTH on the cheap. And that could open the door for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to finally get a foothold in the North American market, says analyst Eve Griliches of ACG Research .

"This could be their landing pad," Griliches tells Light Reading. (She's also written up the idea on the ACG blog.)

Here's how she thinks the dominoes could fall.

Google is notorious for demanding low prices and threatening to build the equipment itself if that demand isn't met. ("There's not a lot of love between systems vendors and Google," Griliches says.) Huawei is famous for undercutting the competition on price. It would be an easy matchup.

If Google then builds Huawei-based FTTH networks, it would set a new, lower cost point for fiber buildouts. Carriers would be put on the spot, Griliches believes -- and the only way they could keep up would be to start using Huawei themselves.

This wouldn't be so outlandish. Griliches notes that North American service providers already have Huawei gear in their labs, often in customized variations. They'd like to use Huawei's gear, she believes. What's stopping them so far is a hesitation to run government traffic on Huawei equipment.

Google would have no such restriction. Its FTTH network -- reaching possibly 500,000 homes, as announced Wednesday -- sounds as if it would be all residential, with Google hand-picking its markets. (See Google Jumps Into Gigabit FTTH.)

Avoiding government usage wouldn't be tough, and that's why Griliches thinks Google could become Huawei's entry into the market.

There's no guarantee this scenario will play out, but Griliches says it's something the other equipment providers should worry about. Moreover, she doesn't think Huawei would permanently sell cheap PON gear at a loss; the company could offer its cheapo stuff to Google and others as a way to become a known quantity in the market, then come back with a profitable midrange offering.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like