Multiple vendors for UFB is healthy, says Northpower

Whangarei LFC signs Ericsson for layer 2 services

Having multiple technology partners employed on the Ultra Fast Broadband network is a “healthy” outcome, according to Northpower general manager Graham Dawson.

Northpower has signed Ericsson to supply GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Networking) technology for layer two (the electronics layer) of the Whangarei Local Fibre Company.

The central North Island LFC, Ultra Fast Limited, has signed with Huawei for layer one and two solutions. Chorus appears to be sticking with Alcatel Lucent, and Christchurch LFC Enable has yet to announce its technology partner.

Dawson says it's good to have a mix of technology providers in a network the size of New Zealand’s. “That’s healthy, like open access is healthy,” he says.

“We are rolling out a standards-based system, which means you can have multiple vendors.”

Computerworld understands that these standards were first created in a Telecommunications Carriers Forum working party in conjunction with Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH).

CFH put out an RFP for layer one and two technology vendors during the selection process for partners. A CFH spokesperson says it was intended to create a minimum set of specifications that each partner would expect their suppliers to live up to, but it was always up to the partners to choose who they wanted.

“If they’d all chosen the same party that would have been one outcome, but our role has been to help agree technical specification and as long as the selected companies are compliant with that, that’s all fine.”

Northpower’s UFB suppliers

Northpower outlined its vendor selection strategy in an email to Computerworld, below:

"Northpower installed Wave 7/Enablence equipment initially to get experience with EPON technology. Wave 7 were at the forefront of this technology 4-5 years ago.

"Northpower rolled this technology out in its initial build to approx 1500 premises passed in Whangarei prior to the UFB project.

"After this initial rollout, and again prior to the UFB, using the experience gained, we conducted a vender review over an 8 month period trialling 5 different PON vendors’ equipment.

"Northpower became very comfortable with Ericsson GPON technology because it is around two and a half times faster than EPON and because it met our technical requirements and also Northpower was very comfortable with the level, and type, of support offered.

"Northpower used a Cisco 7609 with EVC technology for its aggregation switch in the initial build and we are remaining with Cisco for the aggregation switch. It will be upgraded to an ASR9000 in 2012.

"In terms of fibre used – we have used Ericsson, AFL ADSS (extensively on our overhead build), Emtelle (for the air blown fibre).

"In future we probably will be going more to Ericsson on blown fibre. 60 percent overhead build and the rest underground.

"We are 20 percent of the way through our build now."

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