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Dell’Oro: 1Q12 access equipment revenue slips slightly/Verizon boosts top FiOS FTTH speed to 300 Mbps

The Dell’Oro Group says in a newly published report that first quarter 2012 revenue for access equipment (cable, DSL, and PON) including infrastructure equipment and CPE declined 8% sequentially. The shrinkage was significantly smaller than reported by Infonetics Research, which pegged the dropped at 22% (see “Reduced spending in China squeezes broadband equipment market”).

Cable CPE sales bucked the general trend, Dell’Oro reports, with strong sequential and year-on-year growth. But the niche’s success was not enough to overcome sequential declines in revenue and shipments for the other market segments.

“Typical seasonal weakness was exacerbated by several factors, including lower PON shipments to China after strong year-end budget spending, the economic uncertainly in Europe, and a slow start by North American service providers,” said Steve Nozik, principal analyst of access research at Dell’Oro Group. “Cable CPE was the exception with growth driven by users upgrading to high-bandwidth DOCSIS 3.0 service for which new devices are required.”

The report shows that in the first quarter, Cisco, with near record shipments, was the lead vendor in terms of cable CPE unit shipments. Arris was next with its strongest shipment quarter in over a year, followed by Netgear, which saw its cable CPE shipments reach a record level.

In an attempt to stay ahead of both rising bandwidth demand from its customers as well as the DOCSIS 3.0-enabled offerings of its cable MSO competitors, Verizon (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) says that it will more than double the speeds of several of its FiOS Internet tiers and add two new tiers. One of these will support download speeds of 300 Mbps via Verizon’s fiber to the home (FTTH) network.

Verizon’s current offerings include the following options (download/upload):

150 Mbps/35 Mbps
50 Mbps/20 Mbps
35 Mbps/35 Mbps
25 Mbps/25 Mbps
15 Mbps/5 Mbps.

In June, the portfolio will expand to (download/upload):

300 Mbps/65 Mbps
150 Mbps/65 Mbps
75 Mbps/35 Mbps
50 Mbps/25 Mbps
15 Mbps/5 Mbps

Verizon says it will wait to announce the price of each new offering until June as well. The new speeds will be offered in standalone and bundled packages.

“The ways we used the Internet and watched TV over the past 10 to 15 years have dramatically shifted,” said Bob Mudge, president of Verizon’s consumer and mass market business unit. “With the emergence of smartphones, smart TVs, Blu-ray players, tablets, and gaming consoles that also serve as over-the-top devices, consumers need more bandwidth to receive the highest-quality experience.”

In a shot at the way cable MSOs provide bandwidth via hybrid fiber/coax networks and DOCSIS, Verizon said in a press release that its FTTH-enabled network “will provide customers with sustained speed and reliability of service, in contrast to intermittent speed boosts offered by cable-company competitors whose networks, unlike Verizon’s, are not all-fiber optic.”

“Our top FiOS speed will be twice as fast as anything America has ever seen,” said Mike Ritter, chief marketing officer for Verizon’s consumer and mass market business unit. “High-speed Internet no longer is just for techies, as more than half of our residential consumers already use at least a 20-Mbps Internet connection. Streaming online video on an all-fiber-optic connection providing faster speeds is better and more reliable during peak Internet usage hours.

“As recently as 2005, video was less than 10 percent of Web traffic,” Ritter added. “By the end of this year, we expect it to be 50 percent, growing to 90 percent in just a few years.”

Verizon says “the majority” of its customers – those connected via GPON rather than BPON — will have access to the two fastest-speed options of 150 and 300 Mbps. At least some customers with BPON connections who “qualify” for GPON connections can have their BPON ONUs replaced with GPON equivalents to receive the top-speed services.

The company says it currently passes more than 13.7 million customers in parts of nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states plus parts of Florida, Texas, California, and the District of Columbia. That total eventually will reach 18 million Verizon asserts.

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