ADTRAN, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADTN) and Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. have agreed to collaborate on the marketing, support, and sale of broadband access technologies, particularly EPON gear. The agreements see Sumitomo transfer its North American EPON operations, previously exercised through Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Corp. (SEL), to ADTRAN. The U.S. company also will receive a technology license and OEM supply rights to sell and support Sumitomo's EPON line in North America, South America, EMEA, Australia, and New Zealand, including already fielded systems. Sumitomo, in turn, will market ADTRAN's SD-Access portfolio, including the ADTRAN Mosaic cloud platform and NG-PON2 and Gfast equipment, in Japan and the rest of Asia.
Terms of the transfer of Sumitomo's North American EPON operations to ADTRAN, or for the other rights transfers, were not disclosed.
The agreement expands both ADTRAN's customer footprint, particularly among cable operators, and product mix, said Jay Wilson, senior vice president of technology and strategy at ADTRAN. He described Sumitomo as the EPON market share leader among North American cable operators, which opens the door to additional customer engagements for ADTRAN.
The agreement also should speed new product introduction, particularly optical network units (ONUs), Wilson said. The companies have agreed to collaborate on PON and software-defined networking (SDN) technology, although they also will pursue independent technology development specific to their respective new market and customer responsibilities. Wilson said that his company plans to leverage the Sumitomo platforms as part of its efforts to support cable system operators' emerging "fiber deep" and Remote PHY Distributed Access Architecture requirements (see "ADTRAN offers 10G-EPON virtual remote OLTs for cable MSO DPoE, distributed access architectures").
The company does not have immediate plans to rebrand current Sumitomo EPON equipment as part of their integration into ADTRAN's SD-Access portfolio. However, Wilson said that rebranding may occur if customers request it. ADTRAN has hired essentially all the SEL employees who had worked in sales, engineering, and support of the EPON line, Wilson said; he declined to estimate how many employees ADTRAN has added. Former SEL employee Howie Abramson was named ADTRAN vice president of engineering in the aftermath of the deal. SEL's other North American activities should remain unchanged.
The agreement with Sumitomo Electric builds upon ADTRAN's acquisition of CommScope's EPON line in 2016 (see "ADTRAN expands cable MSO footprint via CommScope FTTH systems acquisition").
Sumitomo, meanwhile, gains access to ADTRAN's NG-PON2 technology (currently under evaluation by Verizon) as well as Gfast technology (currently in deployment with AT&T and other carriers). "Our global alliance ensures that cable MSOs and internet service providers around the globe are supported with the industry's most open and complete 10G-EPON, NG-PON2, and Gfast with SD-Access solutions and with the company best positioned to advance their networks and accommodate next-generation services," said Hiroaki Nishimoto, general manager, Broad Networks Division, at Sumitomo Electric. "ADTRAN is the right partner for Sumitomo Electric, because of its long-term trust from Tier 1 telco and MSO customers in North America, and also because of its leadership in a complementary product portfolio and its unique experience with deploying and maintaining remote electronics. We look forward to the collaboration between our teams that will result in more competitive solutions for our customers."
At least one industry analyst likes the deal. "The global alliance between ADTRAN and Sumitomo Electric will greatly benefit MSOs and service providers around the world," said Julie Kunstler, principal analyst at Ovum, via an ADTRAN press release. "It is a win-win. ADTRAN is obtaining the most widely deployed 10G-EPON equipment solution in North America and aligning itself with a leading global 10G-EPON supplier, while Sumitomo Electric has the opportunity to leverage the ADTRAN SD-Access portfolio in its home market."
Sumitomo introduced 10G-EPON line cards compliant with DOCSIS Provisioning of EPON (DPoE) to North America in 2014 (see "Sumitomo Electric launches 10G-EPON line cards").
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