FCI dives into residential DSL with Catena Networks

FCI Broadband, formerly Futureway Communicaitons Inc., has entered the residential DSL market by deploying gear from Kanata, Ont.-based Catena Networks.

FCI offers voice and Internet services to residential customers in the Greater Toronto Area primarily through fibre-to-the-home deployments. The company also serves up voice, data and hosting to business users.

FCI is offering DSL services over copper in two subdivisions using Catena’s CN1000 Broadband Loop Carrier system and plans to use Catena gear in more housing and condominium developments in the future, said Jay Gowans, vice-president of operations for FCI.

Catena’s CN1000 is a combination digital loop carrier, DSL access multiplexer and media gateway capable of providing voice, data and video on every line. The box is designed to replace older, voice-only remote terminals.

The CN1000 can support up to 1056 lines in a single system, or 2112 lines in a seven-foot-tall cabinet model.

Catena also makes the CNX-5 Broadband DSL System, a linecard upgrade that allows Lucent’s legacy digital loop carriers, the SLC Series 5, to support both voice and data.

FCI is the first account Catena has landed in Canada, said Jim Hjartarson, the company’s CEO.

The CN1000 has already been deployed by several independent, regional carriers in the U.S. One regional Bell operating company (RBOC) is trialling the box, with another RBOCs expected to begin trials later this summer, Hjartarson said.

In Canada, several independent carriers have expressed interest in the Catena box, but there has been no interest from larger players.

“I’d say Bell Canada is taking what I’d call the quintessentially Canadian perspective,” Hjartarson said. “That is, Catena is going to have to be a raging success in the U.S. before we can do successful business with the big guys here in Canada.”

Catena’s biggest competitors are Alcatel and Lucent in the large carrier accounts and Advanced Fibre Communications Inc. in the smaller, independent accounts, Hjartarson said.

Some of the independent U.S. carriers are using the Catena platform to offer video services over DSL in areas where cable might not be available, Hjartarson noted.

At the moment, FCI has no plans to use the CN1000 to offer video, Gowans said.

FCI isn’t a major broadband provider, but the firm does have a solid business acting as the only facilities-based provider in specific GTA developments, said Mark Quigley, an analyst with research outfit Yankee Group Canada, based in Ottawa.

FCI was founded in the late 1990s by the De Gasperis family, which also operates Metrus Development Inc., a real estate developer in the GTA. FCI operates its network in Metrus developments.

“They own the infrastructure, so they’re not relying on the incumbent carrier to wholesale any of it,” Quigley noted. “They do have captive markets in that they’re the ones with the infrastructure in those specific developments. That said, with that model their addressable market space is a small one, limited to the developments the parent company has.”