GPON to take off in 2011 in Latin America - Zhone Technologies

Friday, January 28, 2011

US communications equipment provider Zhone Technologies (Nasdaq: ZHNE) expects considerable uptake of GPON optical internet technology across Latin America in 2011, especially in Mexico and Colombia, Zhone's senior marketing director, Manish Matta, told BNamericas.

According to the executive, Zhone has provided GPON technology to Mexico's second largest landline operator, Axtel, to complement the company's WiMax wireless network.

The idea was to "leapfrog" the incumbent Telmex (NYSE: TMX), which is confined to an all copper network, offering higher speeds and eventually IPTV, something that Telmex is still prevented from doing due to regulatory restrictions.

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"As regulatory issues get sorted out, we believe triple play and specifically IPTV applications will further drive GPON growth in the residential market," Matta said.

In Colombia, most telcos are beginning to trial GPON, though to date there have not been significant rollouts. That is likely to change in 2011, however, with the likes of Unitel opting to move toward GPON instead of building out a hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) network, the executive said.

In Central America and the Caribbean, GPON adoption appears to be slower, and in the case of the former it remains to be seen whether regional firms will pursue an HFC or GPON rollout strategy, Matta said.

In the Caribbean, most telcos have not even reached triple-play offerings yet, though Matta expects LIME, which operates in 13 Caribbean markets, as well as Puerto Rico incumbent PRT to begin limited GPON deployments in 2011 and step them up in 2012.

An exception in the Caribbean is Guyana, where telecoms incumbent GT&T announced earlier this month it would upgrade to ADSL2+ services using Zhone Technologies' MXK multi-service access node (MSAN). This will lay the foundation for introducing converged and triple-play services and allow for the flexibility of introducing FTTx infrastructure as the network expands.

Matta said GT&T needed first to establish a national terrestrial fiber backbone network to interconnect to a new submarine cable system the company has laid with neighboring Suriname.

Triple play is the driving factor for GPON demand as it improves the business case for deploying fiber, Matta said.

"While some countries are deploying IPTV, most countries in the CALA region are inhibited by regulatory issues. However, IPTV applications could emerge in some countries during 2011. The delivery of triple play in CALA is mostly through copper/xDSL. However a few operators are deploying fiber today," he said.