Calix Couches Ethernet Story
That's what some conclude when they realize that Calix, a member of the Ethernet in the First Mile Alliance (EFMA), doesn't have Ethernet as a generally available service on its flagship product, the C7. As a Calix critic put it: "How could a company take up the mantle of marketing Ethernet advances when Ethernet isn't even part of that company's commercial offering?"
It's a fair question and, as these things usually go, there's more to the story. When Calix first announced its product, the company mentioned it would eventually support Ethernet, but noted by way of a*teri*k* and small print that Ethernet wouldn't be generally available until some time in 2003. Their story hasn't changed: Ethernet still isn't generally available on Calix's C7 product.
However, Calix does have the ability to handle Ethernet connections. A spokesperson for the company says that Calix has "several hundred" Ethernet ports running in customer networks now. "It is up and running today, but we have not made it generally available. It's a distinction we make internally to get some mileage out of the functionality before releasing it to a broader set of customers."
The Ethernet dustup is one of many niggling items Calix has dealt with in recent months. Indeed, building a product that collapses the functions of so many devices -- digital loop carrier (DLC), DSLAM, next-gen Sonet add/drop multiplexer, IP router, Ethernet switch, ATM switch, optical access platform, and digital crossconnect -- onto one platform is not for the faint of heart (see Calix Comes Out).
The initial release of Calix's C7 product was about six months late, Light Reading sources say. Some recent enhancements to the system -- Release 2.0 -- were also several months behind the company's original plans. The C7's Release 2.0 was slated for debut on August 31, 2002, according to company documents dated April 2002. The actual release happened last week.
Calix maintains that such schedule flip-flops are par for the startup course. "While we may have had roadmap slips between 12 and 18 months ago, over the last 12 months we have been cautiously optimistic with regard to business traction," the spokesperson says.
The company also says that it now has shipped more than 700 systems with more than 80,000 ports to more than 70 customers nationwide -- more than it originally announced (see Calix Blossoms).
Calix's raison d'être is to get all the integrated functions on its box in tip-top shape so it can help incumbent phone carriers steal back some of the voice, video, and data customers they're losing to the cable providers (see Telcos Tackle Triple Play ). In a May sit-down with Light Reading the company talked up its ability to offer video services over DSL.
"One of our [independent LEC] customers is getting a 30 percent penetration rate with their video [over DSL] services where they offer them," says CEO Carl Russo. Several of those customers switched from cable or satellite service, Russo says, and half of them have signed up for video on demand.
While Calix continues to build up steam for a run at the RBOC market, the company is blunt about the challenges of selling a system with so many functions crammed into so small a space. "On any single function, from a first-cost standpoint, we are competitive, but do not look at us as being the lowest first cost. We're not the cheapest," says Russo.
"What happens is as soon as you go in and add the second function -- forget it," he says, with a dismissive gesture. "As you add functions and applications, it becomes quite difficult to compete with us."
— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading