MELBOURNE – Preliminary results for wired broadband access markets show that shipments of ONT units (customer-premises equipment for passive optical networks, or PON) and of VDSL2 ports grew strongly while other segments lagged, according to a new report from market analyst firm Ovum.

Though different countries are at different stages of the transition, Ovum says there is a global shift from DSL to FTTH/FTTB and a deceleration of OLT (central-office equipment) shipments as the focus swings to customer acquisition and ONT/ONU sales. (Translation: Fiber-to-the-home deployers, such as Verizon, are trying to sign up more customers in their existing service areas before expanding their fiber networks any further.)

The one exception to the decline of DSL is VDSL2 – the standard that is used to deliver very high bandwidth over short copper loops in fiber-to-the-curb or fiber-to-the-building deployments. In 2Q12, though overall DSL shipments were down, VDSL2 volumes recovered strongly to a record 6.3 million. In North America, VDSL2 accounted for 57 percent of all DSL shipments, and in the EMEA region, it accounted for 43 percent.

Global shipments of PON customer-premises equipment rose strongly as a long wave of OLT installations at central offices has begun to lose steam. Asia-Pacific and China in particular led sales of PON ONTs and ONUs. Ovum noted the first year-over-year decline in global PON OLT port shipments in more than three years.

However, shipment volumes do not always mean profits for vendors. Ovum analyst Kamalini Ganguly comments, “The division that has opened up recently between PON volume and revenue trends continued in 2Q12 due to price wars, particularly in China, and will have an impact on vendor results and strategy. The conversation in fixed access tends to be around shipment volumes, but the focus should really be on revenues and profits. The PON price wars in China and elsewhere are not sustainable. Revenues are not keeping pace with growth in volumes. Vendors – even Huawei – are being pickier about projects and markets. If price pressures continue, there may be more vendor consolidation like that of Calix’s acquisition of Ericsson’s PON portfolio.”

CMTS vendors saw volumes drop quarter-on-quarter in 2Q12, but such softness is not unusual at this time of the year. Shipments are still high and were up 10 percent from the year-ago level. “CMTS annualized shipments in North America and EMEA are at their peak,” concludes Ganguly.