Yesterday Motorola announced it was divesting its fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) product family.

The FTTN technology it has sold to Communications Test Design (CTDI) was part of the Multi-Service Access Platform (MSAP) that Motorola had partly acquired through its purchase in 2000 of cable equipment manufacturer General Instrument. It took additional investment for Motorola to gain control of Next Level Communications* – the GI offshoot that held the MSAP platform.

This MSAP node technology bears no relationship with Motorola’s opto-electrical nodes built for hybrid/fiber coax (HFC) architectures. (For a summary of the original announcement, click here).

‘Mixing terms’

The announcement may have caused some confusion.

"This industry (telecommunications) is so good at mixing terms," said Floyd Wagoner, director of global product marketing and communications for Motorola. Wagoner explained that the FTTN technology that Motorola first made available in 1998 and is now selling to CTDI is fiber-to-the-node and DSL to the home.

"Cable uses fiber-to-the-node and coax to the home," said Wagoner. But that’s where the similarities in architecture stop. Motorola is still very much in the FTTN business for cable, he added.

Yesterday’s announcement will affect customers using Moto’s MSAP-based FTTN, including more than 100 Tier 2 and Tier 3 telcos. Qwest and Canadian Tier 1 telco MTS Allstream were also Moto customers.

"The relationship with CTDI extends that lifecycle," said Wagoner. "This was a very clean and positive divestiture for our customers."

For the future, Motorola plans to focus on fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) technology for the telco market. While DSL will continue to be optimized for the next 5-10 years, eventually "it will no longer adequately serve as far as a last mile delivery," said Wagoner, adding that FTTP will be the next step for telcos.

All fiber?

Cable has more options than telco for making more efficient use of its spectrum, including switched digital video (SDV), analog channel reclamation and DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding. But Motorola predicts that cable will move toward more fiber in the future.

"Cable operators, starting with radio frequency over glass (RFoG), are beginning that (fiber) journey now," said Wagoner. "We see a window where at some point in the future, even cable ops will be all fiber."

—Linda Hardesty

*(editor’s note: not Level Three as previously published)

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