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Qualcomm’s GigaDSL Uses FDD

July 12, 2016

Author: Loring Wirbel

Qualcomm has introduced the first new products from its 2015 acquisition of DSL specialist Ikanos. The latter company designed both the QCO5700 for multiple-dwelling units (MDUs) and the QCM5720 for customer premises equipment (CPE) before completion of the deal in 3Q15. Branded GigaDSL, the chips upgrade VDSL networks using a frequency-division-duplex (FDD) version of G.fast.

The two devices were under development at Ikanos before the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) approved G.9701 (G.fast) in 2013. The standard specifies time-division duplexing (TDD), causing some inherent incompatibility between the pedestal and existing VDSL deployments. Several Korea- and Japan-based operators and OEMs have pushed for an FDD alternative. Japan’s Miti intended to approve GigaDSL as an alternative to G.fast TDD in 2Q16 or 3Q16; it formed a liaison with the ITU to consider an annex standard for gigabit DSL as part of G.fast.

Qualcomm pledges to follow the TDD standard outside Korea and Japan, but it believes GigaDSL offers a faster upgrade from VDSL in some regions. The company gained immediate benefits from its Ikanos acquisition by working with Asia-based OEMs and operators to bring an FDD product to market quickly. To date, however, it’s the only chip supplier backing ITU standardization of GigaDSL.

Deployment realities of existing fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and GPON pedestals will guarantee a market for GigaDSL over the next two to three years, but Qualcomm should avoid delaying development of a standard TDD-based G.fast portfolio. The company will likely face GigaDSL competitors, particularly Broadcom and perhaps Huawei’s HiSilicon. But GigaDSL remains a transitional technology, and we expect traditional TDD-based G.fast to dominate larger post-VDSL growth.

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