Chipmaker Ikanos Communications first showed its G.fast technology at last year’s (2013) Broadband World Forum, saying it is “the next-generation DSL platform” and that it has been designed “to support gigabit rates over standard copper lines.”
During an earnings call this week, Ikanos president and CEO Omid Tahernia said, “The broadband market is moving rapidly to gigabit service. Pressured by competition, telcos are accelerating their efforts towards ultra-broadband deployment, including VDSL2 vectoring, bonding and the latest node in the evolution of fiber copper access G.fast.”
On September 29 of this year, Ikanos announced that Alcatel-Lucent and Tallwood Venture Capital would invest $16.25 million in Ikanos as the first component of a $45 million financial commitment by Alcatel-Lucent and Tallwood Venture Capital.
Telcos’ Copper Wire Broadband Technologies Will Achieve 1 Gbps by 2015
Many believe that AlcaLu’s main interest in Ikanos is Ikanos’s G.fast chips.
During the call Tahernia said, “Industry reports show Alcatel-Lucent holding the top spot in shipping VDSL and vectoring ports by a wide margin: 44% market share versus 18% for second spot. As a result of our partnership with this industry leader [AlcaLu], we expect our next generation of ultra-broadband products [G.fast] to be aligned with the requirements and timeline of the mainstream market and to be highly differentiated upon introduction.”
Asked when Ikanos would announce the availability of G.fast chips, Tahernia said, “We believe that the milestones that we have in mind in 2015 are in line with what we believe is the mainstream market deployment. And certainly our partnership now with our strategic partner Alcatel-Lucent further will provide confidence in the context of that alignment. So at the appropriate time, we’ll be making announcements in the context of product availability as well as market and carrier wins. We have to also recognize the fact that this [G.fast] standard is not completely ratified. So I think it’s more interesting to stay focused on what the carriers intent is around truly deploying as an end-to-end one gigabit service and we believe that 2015 is a time where some of the early testing and trials will happen and we expect that commercial deployments really be in the 2016 time frame.”
Telcos’ Copper Wire Broadband Technologies Will Achieve 1 Gbps by 2015
As to AlcaLu’s intent, Tahernia said, “The financial commitment by Alcatel-Lucent is broken down into three pieces, $5 million equity, $10 million in debt, and $7.5 million other financial commitments towards really the development of the ultra-broadband [G.fast] products.”
He said the exact timing of future AlcaLu investments “is confidential and is covered in the agreement, because fundamentally it highlights the timing of what we’re doing together and I think that would be problematic obviously for us as an entity as well. He said, “It is milestone-based and it is towards our collaboration and developments of ultra-broadband [G.fast] components.”
As to working with AlcaLu, Tahernia said, “You can see that we’re much joined at the hip and we’re way down the path of collaboration.”
Asked whether Ikanos could sell to other equipment makers the products Ikanos collaborates on with AlcaLu, Tahernia said, “I think the results and the outcome of our collaboration is not exclusive. And we’re in the semiconductor chipset business. We are selling our technology today. We will continue to sell those obviously as well as the results of what comes out of the collaboration.”
These excerpts are from Seeking Alpha at: http://seekingalpha.com/article/2626375-ikanos-communications-ikan-ceo-omid-tahernia-on-q3-2014-results-earnings-call-transcript?page=4&p=qanda&l=last
AlcaLu said in its Q3 reporting announcement: “We recently entered into collaboration with and made an investment in semiconductor company, Ikanos Communications, on the development of components for ultra-broadband products” — no doubt referring to G.fast.
Three chipmakers so far have announced G.fast chips/chipsets:
– Sckipio, which says it has small quantities of G.fast chipsets available for both CE and DP equipment.
– Broadcom, which said its CE chipsets are shipping now and that it’ll have chipsets for DPs available in early 2015.
– Ikanos, which seems to indicate it’ll have prototypes of G.fast chipsets available in 2015.
– Huawei’s HiSilicon could also produce G.fast chips but has not said anything about it.
So, it appears that a) AlcaLu is investing in Ikanos so Ikanos can complete the development of and produce its G.fast chips, b) the Ikanos G.fast chips will not arrive as originally promised in Q2 2014, c) the more likely time frame for sample quantities is 2015 with volume shipments starting at the end or 2015 or early 2016 and d) AlcaLu’s main and perhaps sole interest in Ikanos is Ikanos’s G.fast technology.
What we don’t know is:
– Whose chips AlcaLu will use in the dozen or so trials it has scheduled. Will it use pricey field programmable chips as it did during the early days of vectoring? Are those programmable chips running its own G.fast software or Ikanos’s G.fast software? Or will it use Broadcom’s G.fast chips?
– Why didn’t AlcaLu invest and/or choose Sckipio’s G.fast chips, which Sckipio said are the first G.fast chips to come to market and which Sckipio says are being shipped in limited quantities?
Ikanos’ Neos G.fast Architecture
Ikanos says its Neos G.fast architecture has its “state-of-the-art ultra-low-power analog technology” that enables it to have the lowest power-per-port usage performance while achieving the gigabit data-rate requirements outlined in the impending G.fast standard specification. Telcos prefer very low power usage at the distribution point (DP), where fiber meets the copper wires, so they do not need to install an electrical outlet. Instead the DP gets its power from a modem/gateway in the home.
Ikanos said the Neos architecture provides “high transmission reliability and line stability in high-data-rate vectored environments.” The ability to operate efficiently over connections that have both G.fast and VDSL2 wires seem to be a major differentiator among G.fast chips.
G.fast’s actual speeds depend on a number of factors but probably the most important one is distance.
Ikanos said it has demonstrated:
– An aggregate data rate of 150 Mbps at a distance of 500 meters in a 192-port DSLAM in multiple lab trials at equipment makers and telcos.
– 300 Mbps aggregate performance at 200 meters, which is ideal for short-loop FTTdp deployments especially in MDUs.
Ikanos says its Neos architecture meets the G.fast specification for both consumer premises equipment (CPE) and for the DP including getting its power from a CPE device, VDSL2 fallback and G.vector, configurable as single or multi-port. The result, Ikanos said, is that the Ikanos’ product portfolio “spans the full range of FTTx deployments with industry-leading rate-reach performance, as well as scalability in distance, throughput, and port-count.
Ikanos president and CEO Omid Tahernia said, “To us G.fast is …
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