Optical and 5G Leader DZS Makes Waves

DZS is a company you may not have heard of but they are worth noting. Formerly Zhone Technologies and DASAN Zhone Solutions, is a provider of telecommunications networking equipment founded in September 1999 by former executives of Ascend Communications Jeanette Symons, Mory Ejabat and Robert Dahl.

Now headed up by Charlie Vogt, formerly of GENBAND/RIBBON communications, the company is a broad solutions provider of optical and broadband solutions for carriers. Three people from their executive management team come from Ribbon and others have worked for ADTRAN, IBM, Commscope and others.

Charlie is a well-known quantity in tech and telecom having led digital transformation for decades – even before the acronym DX became sexy.

They have built broad-based solutions company in-part by acquiring a broad range of organizations over the past few decades:

  • Paradyne Networks, September 2005, Internet access
  • Sorrento Networks, July 2004, Metro optical access
  • Gluon Networks, February 2004, Switching and signaling gateways
  • Tellium, November 2003, Metro optical transport
  • Eluminant, February 2003, Access and transmission products
  • vpacket, July 2002, VoIP
  • Nortel Networks Access Node, August 2001, Digital loop carrier (DLC)
  • xybridge, February 2001, Softswitch
  • Optaphone Systems, February 2000, Wireless
  • Roundview February 2000, IP and derived voice
  • Premisys, December 1999, Integrated access solutions
  • CAG Technologies, November 1999, Manufacturing

The broad base of solutions puts them up against ZTE, Huawei, Nokia and a few other major telecom providers. We recently had an exclusive interview with President and CEO of DZS, Charlie Vogt. Our conversation with Charlie and CMO Geoff Burke reminded us of the 2010 GENBAND Perspectives event where we said Charlie was assembling a small Alcatel-Lucent.

DZS reminds us of a small AlcaLu as well.

They are a top-five fiber access supplier, have 1,200 customers are in 120 customers and perhaps most intriguing, a strategic supplier to the world’s first 5G O-RAN system via Rakuten. According to Omdia they are the top U.S.-based fiber access vendor, the number one access vendor in South Korea and Japan and the number 2 PON vendor outside of China.

Where the company differentiates is in its breadth of solutions: cloud management, analytics, SDN, NFV Wi-Fi 6, O-RAN, AnyPON, optical LAN, ultra-low-latency AnyHaul transport, etc.

This is what makes them so interesting … They aren’t well-known but boy, do they play and lead in a number of spaces.

Their 2022 goals include an end-to-end QoS network, cloud NFV/SDN data center virtualization and Wi-Fi/5G, local computing, secure IoT.

They are aligning with virtually all the important trends in the market.

The company plays in the data center, central office and all the way to the tower and customer’s home.

5G is becoming an important sweet spot for the company.

Charlie exclaimed, “We’re kind of telecoms best-kept secret in that, we’re a $350 million startup.” He continued, “We’ve got about 20 million products deployed around the world, but most people in this part of the globe (basically the Americas), have never really heard of the company.

He said he thinks they have a great opportunity – especially at a time when broadband access and 5G transport are growing and so are connected homes, smart cities and smart buildings.

He said, “We are lighting up next-generation fiber access networks. We’re doing some pretty innovative things on the 5G, optical transport network architectures.” Continuing, “We ship about three-and-a-half-million OMTs and CPE devices a year around the world.” Charlie explained the U.S. carriers are excited to see DZS might help them.

The company continues to align its products to the important megatrends in the market – Open everything (NFV, O-RAN), smart everything, the need for more and faster fiber connectivity and of course the latest wireless standards – WiFi 6 and 5G.

DZS is looking to grow in the U.S. as evidenced by its latest news: RDOF Amplify, a program designed to sponsor and assist Rural Digital Opportunity Fund recipients who want to achieve the maximum financial and strategic value of their awards. With an extensive portfolio of broadband access and connected home and business solutions complemented by U.S.-based manufacturing, DZS is looking to assist RDOF recipients who are looking to exploit award funds as a transformational opportunity for their businesses, their communities and their country.

How does RDOF work? Through a two-phase reverse auction mechanism, the FCC will direct up to $20.4 billion over ten years to finance up to gigabit speed broadband networks in unserved rural areas, connecting millions of American homes and businesses to digital opportunity. 

“Through an innovative portfolio of next generation fiber-based access technologies and a new state-of-the-art product development and QA lab at our headquarters in Plano, Texas, DZS is uniquely positioned and best prepared to partner and support our RDOF recipients for years to come,” said Jay Hilbert, DZS executive vice president of Americas Sales. “With our U.S.-based manufacturing facility near Tampa, Florida, RDOF recipients will be buying products made in the USA and a broadband access portfolio that includes 10Gig, 5G MVNO transport and market-leading enterprise optical LAN (FiberLAN) capabilities to support indoor coverage for hospitals, campuses, hotels, arenas, and other commercial environments.”

We are looking forward to seeing how the company leverages its International success in the U.S. markets.

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