Broadband access infrastructure vendor Adtran may have had a setback at AT&T this week but it has a new access product in development that, in the future, might open new doors at the Tier 1 operator. (See Adtran Loses Out at AT&T.)
Responding to a question on the vendor's Q1 earnings conference call, Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN) CEO Tom Stanton noted that the company is developing a "white box" GPON product as part of its long-term evolution strategy.
"The thought is to simplify line card designs and move out things like functional pieces that can be somewhere else in the network. It makes sense architecturally. It's a long-term [project]… it will have little effect in the next few years," said the Adtran CEO.
"It's an approach that a handful of carriers have adopted and logically it makes sense. We are at the front edge of that and we are working [with carriers] on the definition."
That's as far as Stanton went and Adtran declined to comment any further, saying only that we should "stay tuned" for further developments.
Other likely developers of such technology are also keeping schtum for the time being. "This is something that Alcatel-Lucent is looking at, but unfortunately we can't talk to you about what we're up to," said an Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) spokesman in response to our questions.
It's likely these vendors are keeping their powder dry until at least June, when AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is expected to show off a white box GPON proof of concept along with partners ON.Lab and PMC-Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq: PMCS): It would be surprising if Adtran and Alcatel-Lucent weren't involved in that project too.
While actual white box GPON products are some years away from commercial reality, network operators will be keen to figure out now how their central offices will shape up in years to come and will no doubt be interested in how they can maximize their space and power resources in these valuable locations while including their fixed broadband networks in their network virtualization strategies.
For Adtran's investors, of course, the question will revolve around what impact this move will have on its revenues and margins in the medium and long term.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading