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Optical/IP

Ciena Cleans Up OADM

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- OFC 2002 -- Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) has improved its OADM product with some shiny new components and a snazzy new, though grammatically suspect, name. Ciena calls the new [old] product the WavelengthDirector (see Ciena Unveils OADM).

The new box, introduced here at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibit (OFC), bridges Ciena's transport products and its CoreDirector optical switch to allow a carrier to remotely add or drop any or all wavelengths along a fiber route, thanks to its system software.

"This is one exceedingly cool product," says Wendell Weeks, president of Corning Inc.'s (NYSE: GLW) optical communications business. Granted, keep in mind that Ciena's new box uses Corning components. In a booth demo here the company demonstrated how Corning's Dynamic Spectral Equalizer handles selective wavelength blocking and helps clean up signals so they can reach longer distances.

Ciena's older OADM could only drop wavelengths in bands, but the new box can add and drop individual channels, says Ciena spokesman Denny Bilter.

Of course, not everyone agrees that adding and dropping down a single channel is much of an improvement over the old way. "You want large exit ramps off the Internet superhighway, not skinny, little country roads," says Zee Hakimoglu, VP of product line management at Oplink Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: OPLK).

Oplink, for its part, says it has improved on its banded WDM (called "BWDM") technology, enabling multiplexing of bands (typically four to eight channels) with no channel loss, thanks to new filter technology. This method, it says, goes further toward improving a carrier's performance and reducing costs. But is it as cool-sounding as WavelengthDirector? Do we care?

"We are focused on helping our customers build the world's most efficient networks, not on throwing around technology terms," sniffs Steve Alexander, Ciena's chief technology officer.

Ciena expects the WavelengthDirector to be in trials with carriers this summer.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com For more information on OFC 2002, please visit: www.nottheofc.com

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