Network vendors scour for NBN sales openings

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Network vendors scour for NBN sales openings

Greenfield fibre-to-the-premise network operators could now be best positioned to provide equipment vendors with a way to sell kit into the $43 billion National Broadband Network.

News of the termination of the NBN RFP yesterday potentially changed the landscape for vendors looking to sell equipment into the NBN.

Previous alliances with the various failed bidders, including Optus and Acacia, may now come to nothing or is at very least uncertain, leaving vendors to seek new avenues for equipment sales.

While the ‘NBN Company' to be set up by the Government is an obvious sales avenue, its structure hasn't been announced.

Builders of FTTP networks in greenfield housing estates - and providers that want to get into the space - are emerging as a key sales avenue for the networking vendor community, at least in the short- to mid-term.

"I don't think the Government is going to be completely driving the process," said Michael Johannessen, executive general manager at NEC Australia.

"My understanding is that if you were a carrier building a compliant FTTP network you could contribute your assets to the NBN wholesale model in return for some sort of shareholding in the scheme.

"I don't think the Government would call for a single [equipment] tender [for the NBN]. I don't think it's how they'd behave."

Alcatel-Lucent told iTnews it is unsure how yesterday's announcement will affect its sales avenues for networking equipment.

"It's still early days for the announcement and like the rest of the industry we're waiting to see what the Government is proposing and how it will work," said Australian managing director Andrew Butterworth.

"Exactly how it might look will depend on how the national broadband company evolves and what types of investments are within it."

Juniper Networks' consulting engineer Benjamin Hickey agreed: "It's hard to predict how it will work.

"We've had engagement with some of the proponents to date and will continue to do so should they be part of the Government company. We're ready to leverage our reputation."

But he added: "We've declared our position with OptiComm in the greenfield FTTP space. We're talking to all those that want to be in [on] this business."

Ericsson A/NZ strategic marketing manager, Colin Goodwin, said Ericsson's strategy would involve bringing lessons from international projects "to assist the Australian situation, as well as providing insight into the development path for FTTH".

"Naturally, we believe we are well suited to a role in the network design and construction, and hope to be a key contributor to the project," he said.

If the FTTP builder market becomes an important avenue for future sales into the NBN, many vendors are ready to pounce.

NEC and Juniper Networks are aligned with OptiComm. TransACT and Telstra's little-known Velocity project use equipment from Alcatel-Lucent.

All vendors with plays into the FTTP market locally agreed it would put them in good stead with winning NBN business.

Alcatel-Lucent and NEC said they would push gigabit passive optical networking (GPON) technology as the way forward for NBN FTTP deployments.

"I think GPON would be the best outcome," Johannessen said.

"It's ITU standard, carrier-grade interoperable solution and seems to have a lot of benefits in doing interconnections between technologies from multiple suppliers."

Ric Clark, CTO of Alcatel-Lucent added: "We're the world's leader in GPON technology which is probably the most likely technology to be deployed."

Juniper said it would be pushing both IP core and edge routing solutions that build intelligence into how services are delivered across the NBN.

"Behind the broadband access network there has to be an IP network. That's the speciality of Juniper," Hickey said.


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