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Ultra-Broadband

Fujitsu Flashes on GPON

Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. unveiled its GPON platform yesterday, but don't be surprised if some folks consider it a Flashwave upgrade instead.

Fujitsu used its Flashwave multiservice provisioning platform (MSPP) as the basis for its GPON optical line terminal (OLT), the box that sits in the central office and controls the connections to dozens of homes. The OLT is called the Flashwave 6100 and has quite a bit in common with the Flashwave 4100 MSPP. (See Fujitsu Launches GPON.)

As Light Reading reported in January, Fujitsu developed its GPON system in-house in order to compete for the attention of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) The three RBOCs jointly crafted a request for proposal (RFP) for GPON last year, with winning bids yet to be announced. (See Fujitsu Preps GPON Plans.)

PON frontrunners vying for that job include Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) Other big names are chasing the RFP as well, including Hitachi Telecom (USA) Inc. , Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Nortel Networks Ltd. , and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE). (See Nortel, Huawei Bid on GPON.)

Fujitsu isn't the only vendor recasting its established equipment for GPON. One plan disclosed by Tellabs last year involves applying the Tellabs 8800 multiservice router to the task. (See Tellabs Edges Into GPON.) Fujitsu's 6100 box uses density to its advantage. It fits in one-quarter of a 7-foot rack and can support 2,560 homes -- a maximum of 256 per slot -- Fujitsu says. And it's capable of using the linecards that the 4100 uses -- giving Fujitsu's GPON play a Sonet/SDH flavor for the carriers that want it. That means the 6100 can even do double duty as a multiservice provisioning platform (MSPP).

If the thing is going to look so much like the 4100, why not just use the 4100 as a GPON system? The problem is that GPON requirements include support for 10-Gbit/s slots -- four ports of 2.5 Gbit/s apiece -- and a capability for packet integration. "All those require a new backplane because of the capacity of the slots and the capacity of the cards," says Randy Eisenach, a market development director at Fujitsu.

Competitors have their doubts about the approach, though. "We initially had a concept similar to that about three years ago," says David Foote, CTO of Hitachi Telecom. The conclusion was that the idea didn't make sense "until you get to the point where PON buildouts get quite extensive."

Similarly, Hitachi rejected thoughts of melding other broadband types with GPON -- letting the OLT take in broadband loop carrier (BLC) cards, for instance. That would let carriers migrate gradually to GPON -- but if GPON volumes got substantial, the BLC stuff might become a gratuitous add-on, making the whole platform look too expensive. "Our conclusion was to focus on OLTs first and let the market build out," Foote says.

As Fujitsu disclosed earlier, the 6100 includes CWDM capability, allowing for eight wavelengths that can be used for future capacity upgrades. Fujitsu still isn't revealing all the details, which include new tricks for synchronizing the data on each side of the PON connection.

The next step would be full-blown WDM-PON, where every customer receives a dedicated wavelength. Fujitsu is working on that technology but doesn't have near-term hopes for it. "We've had great progress with WDM-PON, but it's never going to reach the same price point as a GPON ONT," Eisenach says.

Still, the concept is sprouting. Startup Novera Optics Inc. , which has been focusing on the Korean market, formally announced its WDM-PON platform yesterday. (See Novera Unveils SpeedLIGHT and Novera's Got a New PON Spin.)

A more immediate next step will be an copper-interface card, accommodating the fiber-to-the-node projects that use VDSL2 to complete the span to the home. "I can tell you VDSL2 is the next interface we'll be working on, and we'll have an announcement in the next 12 months," Eisenach says.

It's also likely that other 6000-series Flashwaves will arrive, as Eisenach hints that Fujitsu has considered a more packet-oriented version of the box. That would jibe with what appears to be a trend in optical networking, where vendors are recasting their platforms to relate to the Ethernet-heavy plans of some carriers. (See Level 3, XO Rethink MSPPs.)

The 6100 will be available for trials in August, with production volumes slated for October.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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