Ciena says it’s positioned to satisfy cable’s Fiber Deep initiatives

fiber optical (Pixabay)

Ciena says cable's effort to drive fiber deeper into its network to satisfy the growing appetite for consumer broadband, and a migration toward serving larger businesses, could produce new revenues in its packet and converged packet optical networking segments.

By enhancing its portfolio to get closer to what it calls the network edge, Ciena can play a strategic role in its customers’ network densification initiatives, such as 5G and Fiber Deep.

Steve Alexander, CTO of Ciena, told investors during the company’s fiscal fourth quarter 2017 earnings call that it can play up its well-established brand recognition with cable operators it has established with its optical platforms.  

Steve Alexander

“We've been a supplier into the cable space for quite a while,” Alexander said during the earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “Fiber Deep is a long-term objective for the MSOs to replace a lot of what you would call the old analog plant and moving fiber closer to customers and increase the data rates out of the edge of the network.”

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Charter and Comcast have set aggressive timelines for expanding their fiber networks. These expansions will address a few main concerns: consumer broadband services via DOCSIS 3.1 via existing HFC plant, targeted FTTH deployments, and business services growth.

To battle Hawaiian Telcom’s aggressive 1 Gbps FTTH market play, Charter recently launched its first residential DOCSIS 3.1-based 1-gig deployment in Oahu. Having spent the last 18 months integrating Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks cable systems, its deployment of the next-generation DOCSIS 3.1 cable network standard trailed other large U.S. cable companies, including Comcast and Mediacom.

The cable MSO’s Spectrum Enterprise division is also trialing its own SD-WAN service with Nuage Networks and several key enterprise customers.

Comcast Business, meanwhile, invested in a significant expansion of its fiber-based network in Chambersburg, in Greater Philadelphia, New Jersey and in Jefferson County. The expanded optical Ethernet network delivers up to 100 Gbps of network capacity to support a set of advanced services, including its new SD-WAN line.

Like Charter, Comcast is also expanding its own DOCSIS 3.1 service to businesses and residential customers across its footprint. Comcast’s Business Internet 1 Gbps service is already available in much of the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic and Central United States, and will be available to the entire national Comcast service area by the end of 2017.

While these two MSOs are operating at different paces, Alexander said that Ciena can apply its expertise in packet and converged packet optical to meet their respective network transitions.

“If you think of what we're able to accomplish in terms of wireless backhaul space moving photonics out to the edge, we're going to do essentially the same thing here with the Fiber Deep activities,” Alexander said. “As you know the cable folks touch a lot of not just residences, but the small-medium enterprises and wireless backhaul as well.”

Alexander added that “you're going to see the technologies and the platforms that we've got feed directly in solving those problems for us.”