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Quantum Bridge's Big Deal

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
8/22/2000

Quantum Bridge Communications Inc. has scored the first big off-the-shelf sale of passive optical networking (PON) access equipment. Now it must hold onto it.

In a deal announced today, Advanced TelCom Group Inc. plans to spend up to $50 million over a three-year period on Quantum Bridge's PON switches and customer premises equipment (CPE). The startup carrier says it's already using the gear in Santa Rosa, Calif., and will use the PONs to extend voice and 10-Mbit/s Ethernet data services to customers in business parks located in about 15 more cities in 11 states. "There are opportunities to use PON access in many, if not all, of our network cities," says Curt Wheeling, ATG founder and CTO.

The deal gives Quantum Bridge a lead on its chief competitor, Terawave Communications, which says it's in numerous trials but hasn't yet nailed down a commercial contract. The deal also puts Quantum Bridge in front of a range of other early suppliers who've announced trials but haven't produced commercial deployments -- a list that includes Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA), Fujitsu Ltd.(KLS:FUJI.KL), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and NEC Eluminant Technologies Inc..

For the record, Quantum Bridge also has trials that so far have come to naught. This spring, it told Light Reading that it was in trials at cable TV provider Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK). "We're still there. Trials are going well. Expect another announcement soon," a Quantum Bridge spokesperson said today.

Meantime, Quantum Bridge must work to keep its first big customer. ATG is clear that in evaluating its products against those of Terawave, Quantum Bridge won out in part because of their roadmap.

"I'd like to see 100Base-T capabilities, redundant links, and a smaller chassis," says Curt Wheeling. All of these, he notes, are on the promised delivery list his new PON vendor has provided.

Clearly, there's work to be done. And Wheeling says he's also not necessarily done buying PONs. "It's conceivable we could buy products from other suppliers," he says.

-- Mary Jander, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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