Valo Pledges Ultimate Access
Ask employees of the stealthy Petaluma, Calif., startup, Valo Inc., what they're working on and they'll say: The Ultimate Access System. As impressive as that sounds, though, what exactly it means remains a mystery.
Last week, the Valoids dropped some hints of their plans as they served Light Reading editors beverages that had been left in the fridge by the previous tenant.
Valo was founded in 2001 by Gluon Networks Inc. chairman George Hawley, the telecom luminary they call "Dr. Loop" (not to be confused with Dr. Koop). Hawley was an early employee at Optilink Corp. and he founded Diamond Lane Communications, which was acquired by Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) in 1999. He previously spent spent twenty years in the digital loop transmission divisions of Bell Labs and Bellcore (see Valo Vows Infinite Access).
A year ago, shortly after Valo closed its $10 million Series A round, Hawley told Light Reading that Valo was building an access box that supports a variety of passive and active connections, including point-to-point Ethernet, Sonet/SDH, and PON (passive optical networking) on one multiservice access platform.
Now, the picture is a little bit clearer. The company says it is building a product that delivers Ethernet-over-copper connections that supports legacy services, such as telephone calls. "We're selling to the big guys [RBOCs and ILECs] first," says Valo CEO David Stehlin.
The aim is to deliver broadband over copper to the million-and-a-half small to mid-sized businesses that employ 10 or more people, according to Don McCullough, Valo's senior director of product management. One of the technological tricks Valo is employing to accomplish this is to add more bandwidth by bonding copper pairs together.
The bonded copper pairs will use G.shdsl, the international standard for symmetric DSL that provides for sending and receiving high-speed symmetrical data streams at rates up to 2.3 Mbit/s per pair.
Of course, there are already startups, such as Hatteras Networks and Actelis Networks, working in this area. And Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) is the big player in the copper access space. But Valo hints that it wants to put a new spin on the bonding of copper pairs with G.shdsl, which could perhaps come via a new standard.
Hawley and company say they are working with standards groups to create a bonding protocol that is more advanced than today's inverse multiplexing standards, such as inverse multiplexing over ATM (IMA), the physical layer technology that calls for ATM cells to be broken up before (and reconstructed after) traveling across T1 links.
The old bonding protocols were developed with specific physical layers in mind, Hawley and his collaborators write in a technical document. "None of the existing bonding protocols is optimal for use with rate-adaptive xDSL lines of any type for carrier loop applications, giving rise to the need to invent a new protocol, optimized for the purpose."
At Supercomm 2003, McCullough and Hawley will be on a panel discussing some enhancements to G.shdsl, bonding, and inverse multiplexing.
So Valo is putting its muscle behind an Ethernet-over-copper standard that provides greater bandwidth and quality-of-service management. How's it doing? It's too soon to tell; the company expects its box to be in carrier trials by the end of this year.
— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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