I wrote months ago at this about the focus that AFC had and how this focus created a market success in the small carriers. Now here we were doing a very large rollout at a Tier 1 carrier. This created an interesting set of challenges.
One of the things that was a huge gain in the IOCs was the flexibility of the UMC. This feature allowed the customer to configure the installation to what they needed. This was a real problem for FiOS. The solution was to create OLTs in standard configurations. We ended up building 2 configurations: A was a TR-08 configuration and B was a GR-303 configuration. Other than that there was no difference between the OLTs. TR-08 and GR-303 are different voice interfaces and depended on what was available on the voice switch in the Central Office.
So, we ended up with a 6 chassis configuration. 1 Chassis each for Common Control, Voice Interface, and Spare (intended later for T-1 type services). 3 Chassis were used to hold a total of 50 PON interfaces. The PON chassis eventually held the connections to the Data Networks but in the beginning their was only one connection per OLT (and it was an OC-3c 155Mb/s interface). Harmonic gear was placed in the rack for Video Transmission as well.
Now one of the challenges was something most people would consider simple: Software Upgrades. The UMC started life as a Digital Loop Carrier (DLC). The DLC specification (TR-57) were originally written in the days of the SLC-96. In those days, products were not software upgradeable. In fact, there was no customer software upgrades until we reached Release 2.1. Given that the entire upgrade process was arcane and at best touch and go. This became a huge issue with Verizon.
This process became a point at which the FiOS product separated from the main DLC product. The first real upgrades were a 3 night process to operate in the maintenance window that was available. Given that we eventually ended up with 3,500 OLTs we (Tellabs and Verizon) concluded that if we didn’t do better that upgrades would be going on continuously. Even with this process we could only do several in a night.
Over a 2 year process, this timing came down to being able to be done within a single maintenance window with lots of time to spare. And all of this was all about focus. We now had 2 distinct products. The DLC and the FiOS BPON. They had significant internal differences. They shared a huge amount of a technology base. But this is one of the things that made FiOS work in volume. Tellabs forced the former AFC to build a product specific to the market. Given the scale of deployment, this made sense. Now the group had enough business that we could do both.
Next up, I want to talk about something on the ONT front. Next week we will talk about the UMC Ethernet Interface which has a lot of angle to it.
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