PETALUMA, CA — Broadband equipment supplier Calix, whose PON solutions have been deployed by nearly 400 customers, has rounded out its portfolio by adding a residential active Ethernet fiber-to-the-home platform, the small-form-factor E5-312.

The Calix E5-312 delivers active Ethernet service to residential subscribers at distances of up to 60 km and is compatible with Calix’s existing ONTs, which can auto-detect the type of network they are connected to, and with its network management system. The E5-312 has 12 gigabit Ethernet ports for symmetrical 1GigE services over copper or fiber, as well as two 10GigE ports supporting ring and point-to-point topologies.

Calix marketing director Geoff Burke says that, in the near term, the company expects the majority of its fiber-to-the-home revenues to come from GPON, which is less costly to deploy and operate than active Ethernet and which has the added advantage of supporting RF video delivery. GPON has “plenty of headroom right now” as far as bandwidth, Burke says, and active Ethernet is “arguably overkill for residential users.” But he adds that active Ethernet “has emerged as a clear necessity and valuable niche application”  for high-bandwidth users (it can support symmetrical 1 Gbps service) and also for very remote users (given its 60 km reach).

Active Ethernet’s advantage over GPON in terms of reach was actually reduced by Calix’s other recent announcement - an GPON solution that will reach subscribers up to 40 km from the central office. (Traditionally GPON reaches 20 km, and Calix had recently upped the distance to 33 km.) For service providers in rural, low-density areas, extended-reach GPON can offer major savings by reducing the  number of central offices required.

Calix’s announcements are well timed for rural providers applying for broadband stimulus funding. Burke says that Calix’s polling of its customers that plan to apply for funding indicates that over 80 percent plan to propose FTTP as their network technology of choice, nearly 70 percent plan to use a mix of GPON and active Ethernet technologies, and over 70 percent plan to address “unserved” areas in their proposals.