In my continuing quest for information pre-CES, I spoke with Motorola VP and GM Alan Lefkof a short while ago. Alan came over with Netopia (he was CEO) when Motorola acquired the company earlier this year, and today he’s in charge of the Motorola Broadband Solutions Group (BSG). The group includes broadband consumer premise equipment (cable and telco) as well as service delivery and remote management software.
I’ve written a great deal about cable CPE (including yesterday’s post on the Motorola SBV5422), but much of what I heard from Alan on the telco side was new information to me. Here is some of what he had to say.
2008 Upgrade Cycle
This is the year for significant CPE upgrades from ADSL to VDSL. (According to Infonetics, worldwide VDSL broadband gateway revenue shot up 84% from Q2 to Q3 in 2007.) Motorola is, according to Alan, the leader in VDSL CPE shipments, but to date the overall market is still very small. In fact, it’s still less than a million units a year. The upgrade to VDSL means faster broadband speeds for DSL subscribers, up to as high as 100 Mbps at certain ranges.
Telco CPE vs. Cable CPE
There are several ways in which telco CPE deployments (modems and gateways) differ from the cable CPE model. First, one of the issues with new VDSL CPE today, unlike cable, is the lack of interoperability among VDSL chipsets. This means one flavor of gateway does not work for everyone. Motorola alone has five different types of VDSL gateways including different chipsets from Conexant, Ikanos and Broadcom.
On the plus side, however, unlike cable, two thirds of DSL gateways have integrated Wi-Fi. And 100% of DSL gateways are remotely manageable, allowing operators to configure and troubleshoot equipment without a truck roll. Expect the cable industry to follow suit on the remote management front.
There’s still little to be said publicly about femtocell work to date. However, Motorola has two femtocell trials underway and a third to come. For consumers, adding femtocell units should be just like adding any broadband gateway at home, but femtocells will come equipped with both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity. Hopefully there will be more public info to share soon.