THE LIGHTWAVE BLOG

The Lightwave editorial staff uses The Lightwave Blog to share their thoughts on optical communications and whatever else might be the current topic of conversation from cubicle to cubicle. Feel free to add your own opinions. If you'd like to become a guest blogger, contact Editorial Director Stephen Hardy at stephenh@pennwell.com

Archive for 'June 2010'

    Fiber rules first round of RUS BIP

    June 21, 2010 9:23 AM by Stephen Hardy

    The Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has confirmed the obvious: fiber projects dominated the first round of Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) awards.

    In a report entitled "Connecting Rural America," the RUS says it awarded $1.068 billion to 68 recipients in 31 states and one U.S. territory through BIP. The grants included:

    13 last-mile remote projects that received $161 million

    49 last-mile non-remote projects that received $739 million

    6 middle-mile project that garnered $167 million.

    As I've noted previously, projects that leverage fiber earned the most attention within BIP -- 48, to be precise, the report says. Fixed terrestrial wireless came in second with 23 projects, followed by xDSL (14), terrestrial wireless mobile (5), hybrid wireless (3), coax (2) and satellite (1).

    For-profit entities received the most awards (37), but cooperative or "mutual" organizations received the most money (approximately $500 million).

    Stimulus Round 2: DSL's revenge?

    June 8, 2010 9:20 AM by Stephen Hardy

    Round 1 of the broadband stimulus awards confirmed fiber as the most direct path to 100 Mbps to residences and 1 Gbps to anchor institutions in the United States. However, at least one observer expects DSL technology to edge into the spotlight in Round 2.

    Occam Networks' Director, Solutions Marketing and Strategy Juan Vela, in discussing his company's role as supplier to BIP winner Rural Telephone (see "Rural Telephone/Nex-Tech selects Occam Networks for $101M broadband stimulus project"), believes there will be pressure to grant awards to Qwest/CenturyLink or other high-profile applicants who plan to leverage DSL technology (although Qwest's application abstract also mentions fiber). Vela says that these carriers will offer channel bonding (perhaps such as the 300-Mbps technology Alcatel-Lucent has touted?), at least in more urban areas, as a pathway toward the 100-Mbps to the home 10-year goal the FCC has set in its National Broadband Plan.

    Meanwhile, Vela says that smaller carriers, municipalities, utilities, etc., will continue to focus on fiber in their Round 2 applications.

     

    Analysts offer Cisco/CoreOptics perspectives

    June 1, 2010 3:46 PM by Stephen Hardy

    Having finally succeeded in getting the June issue out the door (we’ve redesigned the mag -- I think you’re going to like it), I finally have a chance to catch up on a few things. This includes more perspective on Cisco’s plans to purchase CoreOptics.

    The best source of such info, of course, is Cisco itself. In the email I mentioned in my previous blog, Cisco PR Manager, Corporate Communications Robyn Jenkins-Blum wrote that “CoreOptics’s technology could be used on any Cisco product with 10/40/100G interfaces. Cisco is also investigating other potential applications of the technology.”

    To some analysts, those “other potential applications” include packet optical transport platforms. When I asked her via email whether she agreed with this sentiment, Ovum optical networking VP and practice leader Dana Cooperson stopped short of leaping to the same conclusion with both feet. “It certainly signals more understanding and awareness on Cisco’s side of the importance of optical expertise and optical performance as packet and optical increasingly converge. (Specifically, they are signaling the importance of the ability to control costs, supply continuity, and differentiation and the willingness to invest.),” she responded.

    Similarly Karen Liu, VP, components at Ovum, wrote in a note published shortly after Cisco’s announcement, “Cisco’s CoreOptics acquisition -- coupled with other optical network business unit roadmap plans discussed at its customer conference in Dallas… indicates a renewed understanding of just how important the optical part of ‘converged packet optical’ will be to tomorrow’s network performance. When Cisco is on record as embracing OTN (Optical Transport Network) you know things are getting interesting.”

    Liu sees a strategic shift at 100G among systems houses away from outside technology suppliers. “Cisco is one of the proponents of MSA modules for optics; it is widely credited (blamed?) for commoditizing the datacom optical modules business. For it -- even more for traditional telecom OEMs -- to buy an optical modules company outright highlights the new need for OEMs to control supply of not only the immediate parts but the technology going forward,” she wrote. “Formerly, there was a view that cost reduction requires highly competitive supply for the optics. At 100G and beyond, differentiated performance in terms of reach becomes the key enabler to lower cost.”

    This would spell bad news for module vendors hoping to supply such OEMs’ 100G needs. However, Dr. Vladimir G. Kozlov, LightCounting’s founder and chief analyst, has a rosier view. “Cisco's move is certainly good news for component and transceiver vendors that invested heavily in the development of 40- and 100-Gbps products,” he wrote in a note released today. “In light of Cisco's clear commitment to delivering this technology to end users, other system vendors will have to follow suit, boosting demand for these higher margin products.”



     

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Stephen Hardy

Stephen has covered fiber optics for more than a dozen years, and communications and technology for more than 25 years. He is responsible for establishing and executing Lightwave's editorial strategy across its digital magazine, website, newsletters, research and other information products. He has won multiple awards for his writing.

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