Consolidated Communications taps DZS to fuel its 10G fiber upgrade

optical network
The operator is set to deploy DZS’ XCelerate line of 10 gig-class fiber access XGS-PON combo and 100 Gbps aggregation cards as well as the vendor’s Helix Edge Access solutions. (shulz via Getty Images)

DZS scored a deal to supply broadband access technology for Consolidated Communications’ massive, multi-year fiber upgrade project, marking a key win for the vendor as it aggressively pursues growth in the fixed and mobile markets.

While financial terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed, DZS CEO Charlie Vogt told Fierce it will significantly contribute to the vendor’s “overall orders and revenue for 2021 and into 2022.” He added following the upgrades, Consolidated will “probably be the largest publicly reported 10-gig XGS-PON deployment in the United States.”

The operator is set to deploy DZS’ XCelerate line of 10 gig-class fiber access XGS-PON combo and 100 Gbps aggregation cards as well as the vendor’s Helix Edge Access solutions. The former are capable of supporting XGS-PON and GPON and 10 Gbps and 1 Gbps AE technology out of any port, while the latter will allow Consolidated to deploy 5G fixed wireless access and Wi-Fi 6-enabled solutions in future.

RELATED: Consolidated expands fiber to nearly 46K locations in 1Q

The rollout is part of Consolidated’s previously announced plan to upgrade 1.6 million homes across its footprint to symmetrical, multi-gig fiber service by 2025, starting with 300,000 locations in 2021. The cost of the update will be partially offset by the $58.9 million in funding Consolidated won in the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction.

In April, Consolidated said it had upgraded 45,800 locations as of the end of Q1. It is set to report Q2 results next week.

Consolidated CTO Tom White said in a statement DZS’ technology will allow it to “leap to multi-gigabit services and to build our future network today at a scale not yet seen in North America.”

Growth plan

The announcement comes right around the one-year anniversary of Vogt’s appointment as CEO, after the company tapped him to lead in August 2020. Vogt has wasted no time leaving his mark, overhauling leadership to bring in executives from Adtran, Calix, Nokia and Fujitsu and strengthening its North America and EMEA sales teams.

Vogt has also already overseen two acquisitions, including the purchases of optical transport company Optelian in January 2021 and network orchestration and software automation company RIFT in March 2021. He noted these are part of its strategy to “not only to deploy best-in-class next-generation technology but to layer into it a lot of software intelligence, from data analytics, AI, network orchestration, software automation, self-healing of networks” as a means of differentiation.

RELATED: DZS snags coherent optics vendor Optelian

“One of the things that’s been a huge desire from service providers for a long, long time is ‘help me understand where the break points are in the network before they happen.’ And so we’ve been investing a lot of time, money and energy in software attributes like that that will be rolling out in the second half of this year,” he said.

DZS already has a strong position in the access equipment market, with data from Omdia showing it led the way in global PON shipments in Q1 2021, with Calix, Adtran and CommScope following. It also led in global PON ONT shipments, Omdia data showed.

Vogt told Fierce DZS is pursuing four primary growth initiatives to further strengthen its business. First, it is working to shift more of its business from Asia (which has historically accounted for around 60%) to the rest of the world, with an emphasis on establishing a more significant presence in North American and Europe. It is also targeting market share gains in the open RAN market and its fair share of wins from an ongoing FTTX upgrade cycle. And finally, it is looking to capitalize on geopolitical issues which have opened the door to capture share from Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE.

“Huawei and ZTE made more headway on the wireless side of networks over the last ten, fifteen years than they did on fixed wireline, but they do have a pretty large install base on the fixed wireline side too,” he said. “The RFP activity that we are working on today as a result of trying to cap and replace Huawei is overwhelming…We think there’s a great opportunity for us to participate in a lot of those networks.”

DZS will report its Q2 2021 results on August 2.