Spediant Spies Copper Opportunity
The Orckit Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq: ORCT) subsidiary is introducing its EML 8000 Multi-Loop DSL (MLDSL) access technology today, claiming that it will help bridge the gap between copper and fiber.
"A lot of businesses are hitting the limits of what they can do with copper, but they’re not ready for fiber,” says Randy Nash, vice president of business development and product planning at Spediant. “We’re addressing that space in the middle… [Spediant’s technology] is for customers that would like to have more than a T1, but can’t justify a DS3.”
Using its MLDSL technology to link up to eight spare copper pairs, the company says it can multiplex their transmission to achieve long-reach bandwidth in excess of 10 Mbit/s. This is possible, Nash says, because all the pairs, which can transmit up to 2 Mbit/s each, are treated as a single bundle. Spediant says that most copper technologies only allow for a 1.5-Mbit/s loop rate.
The EML 8000, which is based on G.HDSL, allows for simultaneous support of voice and data traffic, has full spectrum compatibility, and adheres to existing DSL standards. While there are no multiloop standards yet, the company says it will be able to meet the standards once they evolve.
During changing link conditions, the technology, according to the company, has the intelligence to make decisions about dynamic bandwidth allocations. “If one of the loops fails, service is still supported by the other loops,” Nash says.
Spediant says its new technology allows up to double the reach of the typical DSL coverage range. Up to 13,000 feet, the EML 8000 allows for bandwidth beyond 10 Mbit/s. The technology ultimately allows for a reach up to 21,000 feet, but with declining bandwidth. With eight copper pairs at 21,000 feet, the EML 8000 allows for about 2 Mbit/s.
This has a number of benefits, Nash says, including eliminating access network bottlenecks, and allowing service providers to carry Ethernet services over the copper segments of the public network at the native Ethernet speed of a company’s local area network.
“Sometimes a T1 just isn’t going to be enough,” says Pat Hurley, an analyst with TeleChoice Inc. “And this stuff is really cheap to deploy.” Still, he cautions, “it’s going to be tough for them… It’s really pressed to be a startup or even a spinoff in this market.”
The toughest part, says Hurley, could be convincing service providers that this is a technology they should invest in. “You would have to convince the incumbent that this is better for the bottom line than the T1 and T3 services they offer today."
Spediant insists that the technology ensures quick return on investment for the service providers that decide to install it, pointing out that the overall capital expense for deploying it is only $2,500, while revenues from the technology are about $1,000. “And that’s a pretty conservative number,” Nash says.
To enable Spediant’s technology, the service provider sets up the EML 8000 central office box, which has shelf-support for 20 plug-in cards. Each card supports eight copper pairs. At the customer premises, there’s a pizza-box with two RJ-45 Ethernet ports and one DB15 T1/E1 port, which supports eight copper pairs.
If service providers do decide to focus on this space, Spediant could be one of the only choices out there. While there are a number of companies targeting the higher end of the market with ultra-high-speed copper transmission meant to replace or accompany fiber -- like Actelis Networks and Hatteras Networks -- Hurley says that Symmetricom Inc. is the only company that will go head-to-head with Spediant at the low end of the market (see Actelis Heats Up the Copper and Hatteras Bucks Up for RBOC Campaign). Spediant insists that Symmetricom's technology, which is based on inverse multiplexing over Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), is more expensive than the EML 8000, which doesn't involve any particular protocol.
Symmetricon, however, has a few important advantages over the newcomer: The company's finished product is already available, and it has a redistribution agreement with equipment giant Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA).
Spediant, on the other hand, hasn't got a product ready for beta-testing yet. The company says it expects the technology to be available for carrier trails in the first quarter of 2003, with general availability scheduled for the second quarter next year. Spediant claims that two incumbent carriers have already said they’re interested in beta-testing the product.
— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Light Reading