Light Reading

Mintera Mints Another $10M

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto

Mintera Corp. is still keeping the faith in the OC768 (40-Gbit/s) market, and more important, it's still bringing home the cash.

Mintera announced yesterday it's raised another $10 million from prior investors. Polaris Venture Partners and RRE Ventures led the round, joined by Court Square Ventures LLC , Portview Communications Partners LP , and Star Ventures . (See Mintera Raises $10M.)

The money is an extension of Mintera's Round B, which brought in $18.5 million about 18 months ago. (See Mintera's in the Money.) All told, 45-employee Mintera has picked up $55 million in venture money, with more to come.

"We do anticipate a full C round some time next year," Mintera CEO Terry Unter says.

The money will go toward the launch, later this year, of the MI 40000XS, Mintera's new platform for 40-Gbit/s DWDM transport and the follow-up to its MI 40000. Among the main differences between the two is the 40000XS's conformance to the dimensions specified by the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (AdvancedTCA) standards.

Big carriers are beginning to talk seriously about OC768 buildouts. MCI -- now Verizon Enterprise Solutions -- included Mintera in an OC768 trial that also featured gear from Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and Xtera Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: XCOM) (See MCI Reaches 40 Gbit/s.)

Separately, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) came out at Globalcomm declaring plans for an OC768 backbone. (See AT&T Readies 40-Gig Backbone.)

Mintera, meanwhile, has continued grinding away at the nascent market. "We have equipment of our first-generation platform which is currently deployed or in the process of being deployed" in Europe, North America, and Asia, Unter says.

Mintera's primary competition is StrataLight Communications , which was included in the Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) CRS-1 launch. (See StrataLight Powers Cisco's OC768.)

Even though Mintera has been hanging around for a while, that lack of competition is a point in its favor. "Not a lot of other companies are doing this, and folks like MCI did indicate that Mintera's stuff works," says Scott Clavenna, chief analyst for Heavy Reading.

The OC768 market has been on the verge of sprouting for years, and every OFC/NFOEC conference seems to have component vendors poised for 40-Gbit/s takeoff. (See 40-Gig Gets Extended.) Demand for OC768 got stunted by the telecom crash, but there was a more subtle effect that kept the market on the back burner.

The situation isn't like the emergence of OC192 (10 Gbit/s) years ago. Carriers jumped into OC192 relatively quickly as a way of combining OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) pipes, because one OC192 line was cheaper than four OC48 lines. But OC768 didn't get that boost.

"For 40-Gbit/s to try and be less costly than four 10-Gbit/s lines was really difficult, because 10 Gbit/s was experiencing 20 or 30 percent price declines a year," Clavenna says.

So, OC768 transport has been waiting for 40-Gbit/s interfaces to actually appear on routers. That's finally starting to happen, with Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Cisco, and Juniper all making noise about 40-Gbit/s interfaces late last year. (See Alcatel Touts 40-Gig Deployment, Cisco Sells an OC768, and Juniper Intros Interface.)

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:38:54 AM
re: Mintera Mints Another $10M
"We do anticipate a full C round some time next year," Mintera CEO Terry Unter says.

So let me get this straight: Mintera decided to do an inside round (at a lovely valuation I'm sure) and are confident about doing a "full C round" later?

Why do you even send out PR on stuff like this?
Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:38:51 AM
re: Mintera Mints Another $10M
Heh, good point. It's always interesting to see what counts as an old/new round, too.

What would the exit be for Mintera, at this point? It's hard to see 40G being an IPO type of market... and the spin-in with Sycamore (the long-ago plan) obviously isn't going to happen.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:38:19 AM
re: Mintera Mints Another $10M
They should try to find a buyer... and fast...
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