Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Motorola Introduces RF FTTH Option

Motorola will introduce a new alternative for cable companies that want to offer services using FTTH technology. Called RF Over Glass (RFoG), this technology transports an RF cable signal to each home using a fiber connection. An NIU at each home converts the optical signal to a signal that can be transmitted over the coax network in the home. RFoG provides standard cable video, data, and telephony services in the home.

This is a separate development from its Cable PON products that have been discussed earlier in this blog. Cable PON can provide and RF signal over the fiber for the broadcast video channels, but uses 2.4 Mbps in the case of GPON to support data, VoIP, and video on demand services.

RFoG does not improve the performance of an HFC cable network. It is still limited to the 850 MHz to 1 GHz of spectrum that is available today. Consequently, this approach does not provide any advantage for cable compared to a telco FTTH service.

Motorola is introducing RFoG and Cable PON as alternative architectures to respond to the requests from new housing developments for fiber connections. Developers find that they can command a premium up to $10,000 for new fiber connected homes. Verizon and ATT are both offering GPON FTTH services for these greenfield developments.

Cable companies can compete head on with the telcos using Motorola's Cable PON products. Some cable companies would like to stay close to their existing architecture and are interested in the RFoG approach and believe that their existing networks provide sufficient performance to be competitive. Motorola stated that it is looking at ways to facilitate the evolution of an RFoG network to a Cable PON network so that cable companies initially selecting an RFoG approach can move to Cable PON as performance requirements increase. Motorola will start delivering RFoG in 2H08 for trials and initial deployments.

It looks like Motorola has the cable companies covered with both GPON and RFoG technologies. Personally, I think there will be increasing resistance to RFoG as people realize that they are not getting any additional performance with their $10,000 fiber connections.

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