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Motorola Deal Plugs In Turin

Through its reseller arrangement with Motorola, startup Turin takes a bold step into the cable equipment market

May 6, 2002

2 Min Read
Motorola Deal Plugs In Turin

Turin Networks Inc. said Monday that it has reached an exclusive arrangement with Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), through which Motorola will resell Turin's Traverse product cable operators (see Motorola Markets Turin's Transport). Per the agreement, Motorola will rebrand Turin's Traverse 1600 (its 19-inch chassis with 16 slots for metro access to metro edge applications) as the MBT-5000.

No money has yet changed hands in the deal, Turin says, but having Motorola as a reseller will give the startup a big advantage in competing for cable operator customers worldwide. "When I go to Germany, who the heck knows Turin Networks over there?" asks John Webley, Turin's CEO. "But everyone in the cable business knows Motorola."

Motorola envisions using Turin's box to plug a product gap in its portfolio. Motorola already sells set-top boxes, cable modems, CMTS routers, IP telephony gear, and hybrid fiber coax gear. Turin's boxes will give cable providers the added benefit of a way to hook a regional cable head-end and several distribution hubs together via an OC48 or OC192 Sonet ring.

In video applications, the Turin box will provide Gigabit Ethernet connectivity from a cable operator's video server to its head-end or connectivity between cable modems and the network access point, says Webley (see Cable Networks: A Primer).

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) already dominates the cable head-end market, and its ONS 15454 next-generation Sonet box is used as a transport solution. Motorola's deal with Turin clearly signals that it wants to continue its move up the food chain from commodity cable modems so it can bundle solutions for cable operators.

It should be an interesting fight, especially given that Motorola is as well known for supplying components as Cisco is for marketing its equipment solutions.

That said, the deal is a boon for Turin. While the company concentrates on winning service provider accounts, it can enter an entirely new, and arguably faster growing, market on the shoulders of Motorola's sales force.

"While it's an odd fit for a company that was really pushing their TDM and crossconnect capabilities, the cable equipment market is a closed one, and the only way into it [for an MSPP box maker] is through a partner such as Motorola," says Doug Green, founder of The Bradam Group, a telecommunications consultancy (see Turin Turns Up).

Though Motorola will manage customer support for Turin's product when it comes to tier-one customers, several successive sales to regional cable operators could really test Turin's mettle. "Once you start down the path of controlling headcount and costs, the only way you can really survive is through developing good partnerships," says Webley.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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