One area that I strongly believe will see greater capex in 2008-2009 is Enterprise Access. (see “Enterprise Access Capex – A Ray of Hope?“)
Cable modems forced the Telcos to dig DSL technology from the closet they were hiding it in order to remain competitive. The same forces are aligning today in enterprise access – but this time it’s dark fiber, PON, and even short range wireless that are the threats. What technology represents Telcos only hope of retaining business customers?
Two things happened today. Ciena (CIEN) inked their contract with British Telecom for the BT’s 21CN project. And Marconi shareholders approved the sale of the company to Ericsson. Many readers know these two minor events have a bellwether common denominator – a willingness to meet the new price targets set by Chinese competition.
Just as Vietnam and Afghanistan were proxy wars for the 20th century superpowers, BT’s 21CN will be the first full-blown encounter between incumbent and Chinese research, customer service, accounting practices, and cost structures.
This is yet another example of technology research not keeping accurate score by focusing on the more traditional equipment vendors (Nortel, Alcatel, Lucent, Siemens, Fujitsu) and not counting the emerging Chinese vendors, particularly Huawei and ZTE. Huawei and ZTE both make wavelength switches and ship them in large amounts. Vitesse and Mindspeed supply the components at the heart of these switches and it is the Chinese vendors (and Nortel) who consume the most. Infinera’s not at the top of their list as a commercial partner though Mindspeed considers them a strong technical partner.
We don’t have a copy of the Del’Oro report, but it is an impossibility that ZTE and Huawei are not included in the top 5 vendors. We continue to see a lack of proper accounting for these vendors in carrier optical equipment and think the Nortels and Lucents of the world are radically underestimating the impact these companies will have at their core ILEC accounts. Just ask Marconi (uh… Ericsson) about Huawei and their experience bidding for the 21CN contract at BT.
Infinera is staffed by some very sharp ex-Lightera people, including a few of my ex-colleagues from Vitesse. They are certainly a company worth watching, particularly in an area that Om Malik fails to recognize- long reach, DWDM PON (warning, .pdf link), other than a throwaway reference to IPTV.