The News: The Fiber Connect 2021 Conference and Exposition showcased why fiber is essential to meeting society-wide broadband goals. The sold-out event of 2,000+ attendees enabled key ecosystem players Clearfield, ADTRAN, Radisys, Calix, DZS, and Nokia to take advantage of market-wide tailwinds as the fiber industry heartily welcomed the return of in person events that were the hallmark of sales and marketing outreach and interaction before the global pandemic ushered in lockdowns and reliance on virtual collaboration platforms to conduct the lion’s share of business. Moreover, the show demonstrated why fiber is essential for optimizing broadband economics and critical for ensuring digital equity and enabling all communities to leverage fiber to meet their economic and societal needs. Read the Fiber Broadband Association press release here.
The Broadband Future is Fiberlicious
Analyst Take: Clearfield’s StreetSmart Collector Box Cuts Fiber Cabling Space Requirements by a Third. Clearfield’s StreetSmart Collector Box provides an interface between the PON wall box, typically located in the basement or off-site, to the wall box located on each floor, eliminating common congestion challenges in vertical pathway scenarios. This solution is designed to significantly reduce installation and repair times by reducing the amount of cable that installers must manage which can speed up deployment times and fulfill the greater revenue opportunity presented by fiber.
The StreetSmart Collector Box solution targets the fast-growing MDU (multi-dwelling unit) and MTU (multi-tenant) market by enabling service providers and property owners to solve a key congestion point in delivering fiber-based services to residents. The solution is integral to Clearfield’s strategic objective of enabling the lifestyle better broadband provides through full-fiber MDU implementations. Fiber is already key for assuring building connectivity and as a result extending fiber to all units is the most elegant, simple, and ultimately cost-effective method for delivering the differentiated broadband service experience in the WFH and digital experience era.
The new solution advances Clearfield’s overall market momentum as evidenced by the broadening of its manufacturing capacity in Tijuana, Mexico and fiscal Q3 2021 results consisting of a 49% increase in net sales, driven by 64% growth in community broadband revenue compared to the same quarter a year ago quarter as well as the company backlog that increased 377% to record $40.3 million at quarter end compared to the same year-ago quarter end. From my perspective, Clearfield is expanding its channel and business relations influence across the fiber market, obliging chief rivals Corning and Commscope to counter its new StreetSmart product and market inroads.
ADTRAN Triples Application Power of Mosaic One. ADTRAN augmented its cloud-delivered SaaS applications proposition by expanding Mosaic One to support network monetization and service optimization. Now Mosaic One delivers three new applications designed specifically for marketing, customer success, and operations teams consisting of:
- Mosaic One Promote: Marketers can potentially boost ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) and minimize churn by precisely targeting subscribers with the right offers at the right time on email, mobile and/or social channels.
- Mosaic One Care: Customer success teams can troubleshoot subscribers’ broadband connections from the access network all the way down to end users’ handheld devices, TVs or laptops, with all the necessary information available to them in seconds, providing improved customer experiences.
- Mosaic One Operate: Operations teams can proactively increase uptime, plan capacity, and minimize truck roll costs with plug-n-play provisioning capabilities.
I view the new Mosaic One capabilities as bolstering ADTRAN’s intelligence layer capabilities by assimilating network events and insights that enable operators to gain actionable perspectives across subscriber usage behavior and devices. The Mosaic One expansion is most timely as it counters the DZS Cloud and Calix Cloud propositions of main rivals DZS and Calix.
For DZS, DZS Cloud is key to advancing its strategic objective of powering operator transitions from hardware-centric networks to software-centric networks by enabling software and network orchestration and automation, advanced data analytics integration, and service management across the intelligence edge layer. The Calix Cloud platform is developed to provide the data-driven insights that are pivotal to sharpening the discovery of new monetization opportunities, streamlining actionability, and augmenting the subscriber experience.
With the expanded capabilities of Mosaic One, ADTRAN diminishes the ability of DZS and Calix to differentiate their respective solutions as well as strengthen its overall portfolio to drive support operator marketing, customer success, and operations teams to deliver differentiated and compelling broadband experiences.
Radisys Ready to Advance Open Fiber Networking. Radisys showcased its broadband portfolio, encompassing Connect Broadband Access Controller (CBAC)-C (Centralized) and CBAC-D (Distributed) deployments using Radisys’ RLT-1600G and RLT-1600X Optical Line Terminals (OLTs) for FTTX deployments. Radisys fiber networking portfolio specifics include:
- Radisys’ CBAC software enables service providers to evolve their fiber networks with an open software solution that can facilitate faster product innovation cycles, increased automation, and deeper network visibility.
- The Radisys Combo PON OLT features full PON port flexibility and is designed to enable broadband providers to leverage G-PON technology. As a result, providers could expand their network at their pace and rollout XGS-PON deployments while optimizing their cost model.
- Radisys’ Optical Network Terminals (ONTs) are built with inherent efficiencies and scalability to support data, voice, video and other broadband services for residential and commercial subscribers on fiber networks.
I see Radisys’ commitment to open fiber networking as providing a marketing and channel boost for its overall portfolio, especially through its CBAC solution. Moreover, I see Radisys’ Connect RAN portfolio as also augmenting its fiber portfolio through the delivery of Open RAN protocol stack software that powers 4G and 5G NR (New Radio) small cells. The company’s 5G NR software suite is optimized through fiber backhaul applications which fulfill growing consumer and business demand for both fixed fiber connectivity to support WFH, telehealth, and distance learning applications and 5G to support robust mobile connectivity.
Calix Delivers Impressive Fiscal Q2 2021 Results. Calix Q2 2021 results surpassed several Q2 records and were better than the company’s financial guidance provided last quarter. Overall demand was robust, and Calix’s supply chain outperformed despite the continued challenging global environment for component sourcing and supply chain logistics. Total revenue, which was above the high end of its guidance range, increased 42% compared to the year ago quarter. Key highlights included:
- Added 43 new operator (i.e., broadband service provider) customers of all types in the quarter.
- Set a new second quarter record for new Calix Marketing Cloud customers with total customers increasing by 70% compared to the year ago quarter.
- Record quarter for the EXOS platform (Calix Experience Innovation Platform) with revenue up more than 275% compared to the year ago quarter as both new and existing customers accelerated deployments of the Revenue EDGE solution. The platform targets growing customer demand for hardware independence, services abstraction, and modular architecture across the intelligence layer of their fiber deployments.
- AXOS platform revenue increased by more than 75% compared to the year ago quarter driven by both new and existing customers’ continued adoption of the platform. The AXOS platform offers a portfolio of systems that support networks built on the key PON technologies, GPON, XGS-PON, 10G EPON, and NG-PON2, including more than 75 customers using its 10G PON solution.
- Enhanced Calix Premier Success Services for Marketing, helping Calix operator customers improve marketing campaign ROI (Return on Investment) through more effective use of social media and digital marketing channels.
I believe Calix’s frothy Q2 2021 financial results provides another key validator to fiber’s overall market momentum and the essential role it will play in fulfilling society-wide broadband objectives and delivering must-have experiences for customers.
Nokia Touts Portfolio Wares and Vision
Nokia, as a top-tier global PON market player, unveiled new portfolio assets that demonstrate the company’s ability to drive innovation across the fiber market:
- Live demonstration of Nokia 25G-PON solutions
- Small form factor modular OLT (MF-2)
- Nokia Fixed Wireless Access CPE, including the FastMile CBRS receiver and 5G gateway
- Wi-Fi live demo showcase, including:
o Mesh network with Nokia WiFi beacons
o Nokia WiFi Cloud Controller
o Nokia WiFi mobile app
I view Nokia’s Fiber Connect contributions as vital to advancing the overall fiber cause since it shows why fiber is key to the overall broadband mission, including interworking with 5G FWA (Fixed Wireless Access), WiFi and mobile technologies. Through using fiber backhaul, operators strengthen the use case for 5G FWA services, especially in scenarios where fiber-to-the-premise may be constrained due to physical barriers like large bodies of water or remote rural locations. Likewise, fiber backhaul improves WiFi use cases by ensuring the fastest speeds, including increasingly important upload speeds in the post-pandemic WFH era.
Key Takeaways on Fiber Connect 2021 and the Fiber Broadband Future
Overall, I believe the Fiber Connect 2021 event demonstrated that fiber broadband networks are vital to meeting post-pandemic society-wide goals that include scaling and protecting the distributed WFH workforce, distance learning, telehealth, and premium entertainment. Fiber is critical to advancing the overall broadband mission which includes supporting 5G FWA, WiFi mesh, WiFi mobility, and 5G small cells. Equally important, fiber is critical for ensuring digital equity and enabling all communities to leverage fiber to meet their economic and societal needs. Key fiber ecosystem players Clearfield, ADTRAN, Radisys, DZS, Calix, and Nokia all demonstrated that their fiber portfolio assets and capabilities are ready to meet these top-priority societal objectives and make sure fiber plays an essential role.
Disclosure: Futurum Research is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.