More CeBITs

Another 'Cisco killer' pipes up, ECI dishes some M&A dirt, Nortel and Siemens square off, and much more

March 18, 2004

5 Min Read
More CeBITs

Sniff, sniff. Hey, what's that smell?

More CeBITs and pieces, of course!

  • “Last year, CeBIT was like a cemetery on a bad day," says Zvi Marom, CEO of Telco Systems (BATM). "This year, it’s much, much better. The atmosphere of recovery is in the air.”Marom says he’s been inundated by big companies interested in reselling his company’s new Layer 3 switch, the T6Pro, which he claims is the first such device to be based on the emerging Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA) standard. (See AdvancedTCA Makes Headway.)

    He says many big companies made a mistake by cutting their R&D staff during the recession. “It’s much easier to rebuild a sales team than invent new products quickly -- so now they’re coming to us for their weapons.”

    “This is going to be a Cisco killer,” brags Marom, who becomes the 111,342nd equipment vendor to make such a claim about a piece of new gear. Still, Marom does have some boasting room, having sold his T6Pro switch to the Israeli Defense Force, previously a Cisco customer.

  • The Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) contract wins for ultra-long-haul optical systems with AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) and MCI (Nasdaq: WCOEQ, MCWEQ) are likely to be followed by many others, according to Stephan Neidlinger, VP of solutions management at Siemens optical networks. (See Siemens Jumps for Juniper and Siemens Has Hopes at AT&T.) "I expect a lot of ultra-long-haul [contracts] next year," he says. A rush to build ultra-long networks in 2005 will be followed by a rush to make the networks more flexible in 2006, by deploying Optical Crossconnects, he adds.Contrary to popular belief, there’s a market for ultra-long-haul in Europe, according to Neidlinger. He says carriers in the larger countries -- France, Germany, and the U.K. -- have requirements for 2,000km rings with 700 add/drop multiplexers in them, which is only addressed by such technology. He thinks a lot of carriers will decide that they can cut costs by building big overlay rings, because the latest technology automates the operation of such infrastructure. “Many carriers are telling us that it’s cheaper than upgrading their networks."

    Carriers are close to trialing routers with 40-Gbit/s interfaces, for use on such overlay networks, according to Neidlinger. “With 10 Gbit/s, they can’t scale any more because of the limited number of slots [in their routers],” he says. With the Siemens technology, carriers can deploy DWDM systems with some channels carrying 10 Gbit/s and other channels carrying 40 Gbit/s, to give their router networks extra capacity. The 40-Gbit/s connections have to be over shorter distances, because vendors still haven’t found a way of dealing with polarization mode dispersion. “I don’t see a real commercial solution to this right now."

  • Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) kicked off CeBIT by launching a softswitch targeting enterprise users in Europe, but discussions with journalists at the event turned into an unflattering comparison with rival products, notably from Siemens Information and Communications Networks Inc. One of Nortel’s main charges was that Siemens’s enterprise softswitch can’t support anything like the number of users Nortel’s MCS 5100 can. Siemens reluctantly defended itself later in the day. Martin Deutinger, VP and solutions manager for carrier networks, conceded that it was “true to a certain degree” but that the tables would be turned when Siemens ported its enterprise softswitch onto a Linux platform this summer, boosting its capacity significantly. Deutinger also claimed that Siemens’s carrier softswitch has a much bigger capacity than Nortel’s -- 16 million busy-hour call attempts versus Nortel’s couple of million.

  • ECI Telecom Ltd. (Nasdaq/NM: ECIL) wasn’t allowed to disclose the size of its DSL equipment contract with T-Com, Deutsche Telekom’s fixed-line division (see ECI Gets T-Com DSL Extension). But there was enough information given to deduce that it’s pretty significant. Over the contract period, T-Com is planning to boost the number of DSL lines in Germany from 4 million to 10 million, and two vendors have been picked as suppliers -- ECI and Siemens. Historically, the split has been around 40 percent ECI and 60 percent Siemens, so ECI can expect to get orders for maybe 2 million DSL lines. A typical DSLAM costs about $50 a port, putting the value of ECI’s contract at about $100 million (see CeBIT Schnippets).ECI wouldn’t confirm these calculations, but it did let slip that it came close to acquiring Coriolis at one stage. “We nearly bought them, but they died first,” said Joseph Shapiro, VP and chief marketing officer. ECI was interested because AT&T “loved the product” and tried to get other vendors to take it over, Shapiro added.ECI also let slip that it’s developing a product that will enable it to compete with the likes of Calix Networks Inc., Catena Networks Inc., Keymile AG, and Occam Networks Inc. (OTC: OCCM) in the next-generation digital loop controller market. Specifically, some of the softswitch developments of its Veraz Networks subsidiary will be incorporated in future versions of its DSLAMs.

  • Interest in rolling out Ethernet services is running riot among European carriers, according to many vendors at CeBIT. As a result, some of them have announced new products. This includes ADVA AG Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADAG.F), which unveiled a new box, the FSP 150; and ECI Telecom, which announced enhancements to its XDM-100 multiservice provisioning platform, together with improvements of its LightSoft network management system.

    Last but not least, the Information & Telecommunications Systems Group of Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA) announced a bunch of products aimed at Ethernet-to-the-home applications. Chief among them is a Gigabit Ethernet PON system. The company claims that it’s the first commercial implementation of the upcoming IEEE 802.3ah Ethernet-in-the-first-mile standard for passive optical networks. Hitachi CEO Eiji Aoki tells Light Reading that NTT Communications Corp. expects to have 2 million PON users by 2006 and that, so far, Hitachi is its sole provider of PON equipment.

    — Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading

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