Cable Tech

World Wide Packets Bags $15.7M

Spokane-based World Wide Packets Inc. (WWP) will announce Monday that it has raised $15.7 million in a third funding round. The Ethernet access gear maker has raised $105.7 million to date since its inception in January 2000.

CEO David Curry says there will be a second close on the third round, one that will result in a "consequential" contribution to WWP's funding pile. The company's new investors include Madrona Venture Group and Northwest Venture Associates, which led the round. WWP says several existing investors also participated in the round, including Azure Capital Partners.

WWP will use the money to expand its sales force and to kickstart a more indirect business model and distribution system for its products. The company started out selling directly to U.S.-based municipalities and utilities (see World Wide Packets Wires Provo). Later, it expanded to target some European and Asian carriers, and now, according to Curry, WWP would like to work toward handling all sales and fulfillment through partners in some parts of the world (see World Wide Packets Launches in Europe).

Curry, one of WWP's original individual investors, became the company's CEO about a year and a half ago. WWP's outspoken founder, Bernard Daines, no longer has day-to-day responsibilities at the company.

Curry categorized WWP's latest financing as a "down round" and a "recapitilization," but declined to go into detail as to how significantly the earlier investors were diluted. "The initial capitalization of the company in 2000 reflected year 2000 valuations," he explains.

But the important part here is that WWP does have funding and can keep going. The last time Light Reading caught up with WWP, it was in the process of raising money while closing on three big deals in Europe with KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN), Telewest Communications Networks plc (Nasdaq: TWSTY), and NTL Inc. (see World Wide Packets out of the Woods).

In the Telewest bid, WWP beat out several competitors including Atrica Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT).

WWP's product line includes a central office box -- the LightningEdge Access Distributor – which allows service providers to connect with subscribers over standard Gigabit Ethernet or 10-Gbit/s Ethernet links. It aggregates up to 120 standard Gigabit Ethernet connections from Access Portals or Access Concentrators.

At the subscriber end is the LightningEdge Access Portal, which has up to eight 10/100-Mbit/s Ethernet connections for PCs, IP phones, or other appliances. The Access Portal can support up to two POTS lines.

In between sits the Lightning Edge Access Concentrator, which aggregates up to 24 10/100-Mbit/s Ethernet connections, from either Access Portals or other Access Concentrators, on a single platform. That device connects to the LightningEdge Access Distributor via four, singlemode fiber Gigabit Ethernet links.

The whole kit is managed by the LightningEdge Network Supervisor, management and provisioning software allowing voice, video, and data to become provisioning options from the service provider to its subscriber base, rather than individual applications from separate providers (see Metro Ethernet).

WWP now has more than 60 customers for its gear worldwide. In 2004, the company says it expects to have a "steady stream of customer announcements" and that it will be more vocal on the active vs. passive access gear approaches. [Translation: They're kicking off a PR war against the PON vendors, WWP's main competitors.]

Curry says WWP was indeed one of the company's that sought Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) FTTP business, which was eventually awarded to Advanced Fibre Communications Inc. (AFC) (Nasdaq: AFCI). The decision came down to a "religious issue," he says. "It was largely a result of Verizon using APON to protect their legacy investment in ATM.

With appropriate irony, Verizon will use the new FTTP technology, built on legacy gear, in greenfield applications first.

What Curry can't seem to get is why PONs such as those built by AFC are still called passive. DLCs have active electronics, as do the customer premises devices receiving the bandwidth on the subscriber end of PONs. Wonders Curry: "What's this issue of carrier's saying they want no actives in the field?"

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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