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ZTE 100 Mbps DSL devices turn out to have Ikanos inside

There are enough corrections we should make to the Ikanos piece we wrote last week that it makes it worth writing another piece this week and the most


Published: 24 March, 2011


There are enough corrections we should make to the Ikanos piece we wrote last week that it makes it worth writing another piece this week and the most important one is that the ZTE rival DSL devices, which claimed a very similar spec to Ikanos, is no co-incidence. We said at the time, either ZTE had a license to Assia technology and hadn’t said so, or it was about to get a law suit.

Well we were right in part, Assia, the company that invented and patented vectoring in DSL nodes, cancelling both interference and cross talk in wire bundles, agreed a licensing deal with Ikanos in September 2009, and it turns out that the ZTE device actually uses the Ikanos chip.

Given the scale of ZTE’s DSL reach, its relationship with companies like China Telecom at home and its gradual invasion of western telco strongholds, once captive partners of companies like Alcatel Lucent, this is a fantastic deal for Ikanos. It could see its second generation VDSL2, with about a one year lead over rivals, widely installed all over the planet with a backer like ZTE.

The company was showing the devices we talked about last week at the IP&TV World Forum this week, offering DSL at 100 Mbps over copper. Ikanos told us to expect network ramping using vectoring and bonded VDSL2 chips at the start of 2012.

The other thing that we said in last week’s piece was that we guessed that such a signal might be effective as far as 800 meters from the exchange, but a handy little graph given to us at the show indicates that VDSL2 with nodescale vectoring on its own will perform at 100 Mbps within about 500 meters, and can be implemented at an exchange with just new line cards, which contain silicon to manage co-ordination between the DSL lines and of course at the CPE. But that down the road, two sets of twisted pairs, bonded and using the same techniques will reach more like 900 meters at 100 Mbps, which Ikanos reckons gets it to 80% of households. So once again we were sort of right, but bonded versions are not ready for roll out as yet, and will be earlier in the US, where most homes have multiple lines all the way to the home, as opposed to Europe where typically we have a single twisted pair from each cross box.

Finally although Ikanos actually put out a release about its deal with Assia, there was a hidden dimension, because it also involved acquiring a chip business called Vector Silicon, along with one of the key inventors Kevin Fisher, from Assia. When we looked we could see in SEC filings that it had always been Assia and John Cioffi’s intention to have their own chip company, but instead of separating it out, it was sold to Ikanos, along with Fisher.

None of which makes the Ikanos story any less exciting, possibly more. Ikanos is also working on delivery of a chip for home networks, and is one of five companies expect to release one this year.


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