Optical components

Finisar's Broadway Dabbled in WDM-PON

When Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR) acquired EPON transceiver vendor Broadway Networks last week, it bought a piece of WDM-PON heritage as well. (See Finisar Goes on a Spree.)

WDM-PON was Broadway's first love when it was founded in 2006, says Kent Godfrey, a partner with Pond Venture Partners Ltd. and the only venture capitalist on the startup's board.

Alas, that love didn't last long.

"After about a year and a half building a product for that market, it was clear WDM-PON was just too far in the future," Godfrey says.

That's not a surprising conclusion. Even supporters of WDM-PON will tell you the technology is going to take a while to reap rewards. (See Verizon: WDM-PON Still Sounds Expensive.)

Seeking a change of direction, Broadway hired a new CEO: Jianhui Zhou, once the vice president in charge of China operations at Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN). A former denizen of Bell Labs , Zhou had been acquired into Ciena while serving at ONI Systems.

From that point, Broadway worked on the products that eventually got it acquired -- in particular, the EPON Stick, an optical transceiver in the small-form pluggable (SFP) format. The Stick integrates an Ethernet Media Access Controller (MAC) chip made by Teknovus, which was acquired by Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) in March. (See Broadcom to Acquire Teknovus.)

That chip makes the Stick a standalone EPON optical network unit (ONU), Broadway claims. One use for it, according to a source at another transceiver vendor, could be to put EPON ports on installed TDM-based gear.

The Broadway product was getting deployed in North America and China, Zhou tells Light Reading via email. Hitachi Communication Technologies America Inc. (Hitachi-CTA) was a customer, and Broadway was also producing an EPON transceiver for the Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) ISR 890 in China.

But the gross margins of around 25 percent weren't going to be enough for Broadway to grow. "In the US, it was a little bit bigger, but most of the business was going to be in China and Taiwan," Godfrey says.

Once Broadway was approached by one prospective buyer (it wasn't Finisar), Godfrey and the board decided that selling Broadway into a bigger company was a good option.

Broadway has already developed a GPON variant of the EPON stick, a Finisar spokesman tells Light Reading via email. That product uses a GPON chip, naturally, though Finisar isn't saying which vendor Broadway tapped for that development.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:22:25 PM
re: Finisar's Broadway Dabbled in WDM-PON


I used to pitch this concept constantly as the way to actually make ONTs cost effective.  There are the outdoor issues to resolve but basically if you can make an GigE port an EPON (or GPON) port then you have removed this huge barrier to making ONTs.  Now, any Ethernet product can theoretically now be an EPON ONT (an ONU is an ONT - what you have described is an indoor ONT).

There is an issue in the GPON world that would have to be resolved and that is the dual level management.  Today, the OMCI provides a management and software download process for the ONT.  What would have to happen is that the SFP terminates the OMCI and that the rest of the ONT is managed via TR-69 (or SNMP).

The only remaining issue (depending on how you build your PON) is access to the TM domain of the PON for the ONT.



Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:22:25 PM
re: Finisar's Broadway Dabbled in WDM-PON

Anyone have any thoughts on the utility of the EPON Stick?  It sounds like you could use it to turn any old router into an ONT. Fiber has to reach all the way up to the router, so this isn't an idea for the side of a house in wintry climes -- more an MDU basement application. But is that so advantageous over just using an ONT?

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:22:24 PM
re: Finisar's Broadway Dabbled in WDM-PON


So, it could be.

The big thing is that what would be very good is that if the OMCI is completely terminated then the OLT would not have to change to introduce a new ONT type.

The problem right now is that (ignore other configurations which have similar problems) an OLT is supposed to query the ONT to verify that it has the correct software version.  If it does not, then the OLT downloads the software.  This means the OLT has to know about each ONT that can be plugged into it (and this is a similar thing to what happens in cable).  Thus, this defeats the entire point of the multi-vendor ONT business.

Now, go make the OMCI really only manage the PON and stuff it all in an SFP and you have a component that can be plugged into any reasonable SFP socket.  Now the number and variety of devices available become huge.  One of the problems that ONT vendors have is that carriers seem to want to spec out many different kinds of them.  This means that an ODM business has trouble getting started since they are now in a low volume/high mix business.



Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:22:24 PM
re: Finisar's Broadway Dabbled in WDM-PON

Cool. Thanks, Seven.

About terminating the OMCI for GPON -- Broadway had a second product called the smart SFP that does optical layer monitoring and management. I don't know enough specifics to know if that's a step in the same direction, but it sounds similar.

Sign In