Ovum: PON shipments doubled in 2011

Market research and analysis firm Ovum says the market for fixed broadband access equipment saw “exceptional” growth in 2011 for the second consecutive year. Its preliminary assessment of 2011 indicates PON equipment shipments doubled from 2010, annual DSL port shipments surpassed 100 million, and CMTS port shipments crossed the 1 million mark for the first time.

According to Ovum’s new Market Share Alert: 4Q11 and 2011 FTTx, DSL, and CMTS, 2011 also saw a shakeup in the ranks of top broadband equipment suppliers. For example, ZTE passed Huawei to take the lead in PON OLT port shipments. Alcatel-Lucent entered the top three and FiberHome the top six in PON ONT/ONUs. Nokia Siemens Networks and ADTRAN improved their DSL rankings to fourth and fifth respectively. In order, Huawei, ZTE, and Alcatel-Lucent were the top three in DSL.

“One of the key factors of growth in the year 2010 was a recovery from the downturn in 2009. However, as there was no such catching up needed in 2011, this year’s growth is all the more remarkable and exceeded our expectations,” explained Kamalini Ganguly, network infrastructure analyst at Ovum.

PON shipment volumes (OLT ports and ONT/ONU units) reached record numbers, driven, for the second year running, by China. While China Telecom bought the majority of PON equipment until recently, a China Unicom contract drove the market share dynamics in the second half of 2011. Similarly, Mexico and, to a lesser extent, Brazil are driving the dramatic growth of PON in South and Central America.

“For many vendors, market share gains still depend on winning customers in key countries. However, it is also true that the customer base for FTTx deployments continues to broaden with an increasing number of participants from incumbents, competitive carriers, governments, utilities and even MSOs,” comments Ganguly.

Elsewhere, the DSL market grew by 10% in 2011, driven by the promise of advanced DSL technologies increasing the capacity and reach of DSL ports, as well as FTTN, FTTC, and FTTB upgrades. EMEA was the only regional market to post lower shipments in 2011 compared to 2010. The prospects of the DSL market in 2012 will depend significantly upon a European recovery

Finally, the CMTS market rose by 54% over 2010 and, in a change from the 2010 trend, the share gains were accrued by Arris. However, Cisco still remains the leader in this segment as it has been for years now. Arris’s gains for the most part were due to growth in its large US installed base, but all three major CMTS vendors posted growth in international markets.

Malta plans national FTTH network

Malta is edging towards rollout of a national fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network, with the government seeking expressions of interest in deploying infrastructure as a first step towards an open tender process.

The government aims to provide 100-Mbps services by 2020 to stay inline with European Union targets on broadband access. It has decided to proceed following a feasibility study by Analysys Mason covering technical and economic aspects of the network.

Business models on the table following the study include private network design, build and operation; or a joint venture approach where the government would part-own the network in conjunction with private-sector investors, which would be responsible for construction and operation of the network.

Pat Kidney, senior manager at Analysys Mason, explains the government also plans to directly control wholesale access to the network, "to foster healthy retail competition. An appropriate range of wholesale products will therefore be required to enable service providers to differentiate themselves."

FTTH in Europe: A long way to go

There were nearly 75 million FTTH subscribers worldwide at the end of 2012, but only 10.3 million of them are in Europe, according to the latest update to the FTTH Council's "FTTH Ranking" unveiled at the FTTH Conference in Munich.

Taking out Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States gives a subscriber total of 5.7 million in the EU35. By comparison, North America has 9.7 million fiber subscribers.>

The figures show that Europe is still playing catch up when it comes to FTTH. But it’s making valiant efforts. The number of homes passed increased by 41% in 2011, and the number of new subscribers was up 28%, says iDATE, which compiles the market panorama data on behalf of the FTTH Council Europe.

It is good to see that FTTH adoption continues to grow even in time of economic uncertainty,” said Hartwig Tauber, director general of the FTTH Council Europe. However, he admits that growth is slower than expected, largely because of the economic downturn.

Adoption is still the big challenge. As deployments outpaced the number of new subscribers, the overall subscriber penetration rate fell from 20.3% in 2010 to 18.4% at the end of 2011. “People look at the take rate and say that it proves that people don’t want fiber, but if you look at the panorama you can see there are countries where the take rate is very high, especially in the more mature markets where they have had fiber for some years,” Tauber points out.

Looking at the detail of what’s happening within Europe reveals huge variations between different countries.

Twenty countries meet the criterion to be included in the ranking (see figure); a country must number at least 200,000 households with more than 1% of them connected to a fiber network using FTTH or FTTB. There were no new entrants to the ranking this year.

Lithuania still leads the ranking with 28.3% market penetration, and Norway has moved up into second place at 14.7%. Below them there has been some shuffling in the ranks with Portugal and Turkey showing the highest growth rates.

In absolute numbers, Russia is the largest market by a considerable margin, counting 4.5 million subscribers – nearly half of the region’s total.France is the second largest market, followed by the Ukraine, Italy, and Portugal.

Large economies like France and Italy languish at the bottom of the ranking; in fact, Latvia and Turkey moved ahead of Italy.Spain was one of the fastest growing markets for FTTH, and looks set to join the ranking soon. But the usual offenders are still missing, namely Germany and the UK.

For the first time, the UK earned a mention, being one of the countries with a high growth rate, but it is starting from a very small base. By the end of 2011, the UK had an estimated 7,750 FTTH/B subscribers, and still has the dubious distinction of being the fiber laggard of Europe.


In other data revealed today, the Broadband Forum reported that "hybrid FTTx" — referring to technologies like fiber to the node (FTTN) and fiber to the cabinet (FTTC) that use both copper and fiber in the access network — is leading growth in European broadband access, and is expected to dominate growth for the next five years. Almost 4 million FTTx subscribers were added in Europe in­ the year to September 2011. Hybrid FTTx counted 9.77 million users at the end of Q3 2011, while full FTTH rose by almost 742,000 in the 12 months to 3.17 million users. The numbers cannot be compared directly to the FTTH Council Europe figures because they use a different timeframe and a different number of European countries, but give a good indication of the growth of hybrid copper-fiber technologies relative to full FTTH.

However, it’s worth pointing out that the market for DSL lines is still growing and remains the largest broadband technology in use, increasing by 9.2 million lines in the year to September to a total 125.81 million, says the Broadband Forum. Cable networks are also adding significant numbers of new subscribers: 1.98 million broadband users in the 12 months to September 2011, giving a total subscriber base of 25.77 million.

P&TLuxembourg picks Alcatel-Lucent for ultra-fast broadband

P&TLuxembourg, a telecommunications service provider in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, plans to expand ultra-fast broadband services across the country using access equipment from Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU). The news comes just a few months after the carrier launched FTTH services.

By expanding the availability of high-speed broadband access for consumers and businesses, P&TLuxembourg is seeking to strengthen the country's position as one of Europe's leading financial and trade centers, and as an attractive location for businesses of all kinds. The new fiber-based technology will provide high-bandwidth, low latency, secure, and reliable services to the financial and business sector, European Parliament, and other regulatory bodies, according to Alcatel-Lucent.

Alcatel-Lucent will supply its 7360 Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) FX – the company's highest capacity fiber access platform. The 7360 ISAM FX is the latest addition to the ISAM family of IP access products, which provides simultaneous support for the main fixed broadband delivery technologies including GPON, 10G GPON, EPON, and point-to-point fiber, and enables fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) deployment models.

Serge Eiffes, head of the fixed access network department at P&TLuxembourg said, "Today, Luxembourg has an important role in the European and international financial and business system. By introducing ultra-fast broadband access, we are helping to ensure that Luxembourg maintains and strengthens its position as a global center for economic activity and realizing the government's National 'Ultra High Broadband Strategy'. Alcatel-Lucent, with whom we have long collaborated around high-speed DSL, helped us to get fiber at the right pace for our business. We worked in close collaboration to assess the local market conditions, identify best practices, and choose the right technology with a seamless mix of existing copper and fiber infrastructure for maximum efficiency."

Operators and governments see universal broadband as a priority for socio-economic development and as critical infrastructure for services such as e-commerce, e-healthcare, and e-learning. P&TLuxembourg will improve network reliability to support all extremely sensitive financial and business transactions that occur on its network, while exploring potential new business models and revenue opportunities that can take advantages of the enhanced network.

BT Openreach expands FTTP footprint

Openreach, the infrastructure arm of UK operator BT Group PLC (LSE: BT.A), says it has held successful trials of "FTTP on demand" in St Agnes, Cornwall. It has been testing the technology needed to install additional fiber from a street cabinet to a home or business inside a fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) enabled area.

Previously, FTTP wasn't possible in FTTC-enabled areas. BT says the new method takes advantage of the fiber it has already deployed between the exchange and the street cabinet.

This development means that FTTP – which will soon offer speeds of up to 300 Mbps to end users – will become more widely available. BT says there are around 7 million premises within FTTC-enabled areas currently, rising to 10 million by the end of 2012, and around two-thirds of the country by the end of 2014.

The service – which also delivers fast upstream speeds – is likely to be of particular appeal to small and medium size businesses that need to send and receive large amounts of data. The operator says that feedback from businesses involved in its trial in St Agnes has been "excellent."

BT plans to conduct further trials of FTTP on demand this summer, with a view to making the service commercially available to all communications providers by spring 2013.

Openreach chief executive Olivia Garfield said: "FTTP on demand is a significant development for Broadband Britain. Essentially, it could make our fastest speeds available wherever we deploy fiber. This will be welcome news for small businesses who may wish to benefit from the competitive advantage that such speeds provide."

BT also confirmed its intention to introduce a faster variant of FTTC broadband this spring. This new service will deliver speeds that are approximately double those on offer today, so downstream speeds will be up to 80 Mbps rather than up to 40 Mbps. Upstream speeds will also be faster at up to 20 Mbps.

Alcatel-Lucent builds broadband network for Telmex

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) says it has been selected as a key supplier for the deployment of a superfast broadband access network for Mexican carrier Telmex. One of the largest broadband deployments in Latin America, the new network will meet growing demand for super high-speed connectivity and applications, such as video-on-demand, entertainment, and social networks, the company says.

Telmex has engaged in an aggressive effort to expand VDSL2 and GPON network coverage to bring high-speed Internet services to millions of homes. Alcatel-Lucent is Telmex's strategic supplier for this effort, providing a wide range of technology, including:

  • The latest generation of VDSL2 broadband access technology, deployed in street cabinets throughout cities and municipalities to deliver high-speed access.
  • GPON technology to deliver more bandwidth to subscribers, improve the performance of current applications, and prepare the network for the fast introduction of new services and applications.
  • Alcatel-Lucent's advanced IP/MPLS Carrier Ethernet equipment, which will enable more efficient traffic management and support the delivery of broadband services to a much greater number of subscribers.

"This is a strategic project that reinforces our long-term and very successful relationship with Telmex," said Pierre Chaume, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent in Mexico. "With our advanced broadband access technologies, the new network will allow Telmex to reliably move huge amounts of traffic and multimedia content to remote areas, with better quality signals, ultra high speeds of up to 100 Mbps per subscriber, and substantial savings in maintenance costs."

Internode FTTH extends beyond Australia’s NBN footprint

Australian service provider Internode has announced plans for a new fiber to the home (FTTH) broadband offering in greenfield customer locations. The services top out at 100 Mbps downstream and 40 Mbps upstream.

As well as offering fiber-based services at all National Broadband Network (NBN) sites, Internode says it will deliver FTTH to real estate developments in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and SA, through partnerships with wholesale providers OptiComm and OPENetworks.

The services start at AUS$49.95 for a 12/1-Mbps plan with a 30-GB data quota. “The new plans are ‘NBN-equivalent’ in terms of speeds, quotas and prices,” says Internode product manager Jim Kellett. “As well as more competitive prices, we’ve launched the new 12/1-Mbps level speed for fiber to the home customers and are delivering faster upload speeds with the standard services. We’ve also introduced the optional Power Packs and Business Packs so customers can tailor their fiber service to their particular needs.”

Existing FTTH customers using previous plans can maintain those service parameters. However, Internode will no longer offer those service plans to new customers.

Kellett added that Internode’s fiber services at Point Cook and South Brisbane would remain at higher prices than the new plans because of what he asserted were "uncompetitive" wholesale pricing from Telstra.