Test & Measurement

Corvis Goes Coast to Coast

Today, Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV) announced that Williams Communications Group (NYSE: WCG) has successfully tested its ultralong-haul transport equipment, using it to transmit optical signals over 6,400 kilometers without electrical regeneration (see Williams Goes Distance With Corvis).

"It's a major milestone for the industry because it allows carriers to offer all-optical networks that span coast to coast," says Chris Nicoll, vice president of Current Analysis in Corvis's release.

What's more, it doubles the distance Williams claimed in an earlier field trial with Corvis (see Corvis Completes First Field Trials). Like the earlier field trial, the one announced today uses the CorWave family of products, which are based on Raman amplification.

The fact that the trial was carried out on installed fiber is significant. In laboratory experiments it's possible to select and tweak the properties of every inch of fiber in the setup for best results. That's obviously not practicable in a real-world network.

However, it's worth noting that the trial did not run over just any old fiber. Instead, it was conducted over a portion of what Williams calls its Multi-Service Broadband Network; a network that Williams appears to have built specifically to be compatible with Corvis's equipment.

The question is whether other carriers will have the same success using the equipment over their installed networks.

Corvis says the answer is yes -- and that its products are compatible with all fiber types, although newer fibers will give better results.

However, the age of the installed fiber is not the only parameter to take into account when engineering a network. Bandwidth, speed, fiber type, and amplifier spacing all need to be considered. "Williams, Broadwing [NYSE: BRW], and Qwest [NYSE: Q] have networks that are optimised to bring in ultralong-haul capabilities," says a source inside Corvis. Specifically, the amplifier spacing is slightly shorter in their networks than is standard, he adds.

The upshot seems to be that while Corvis can eliminate costly optical-electrical-optical conversion inside regenerators, it does so at the expense of needing additional amplifier points in the network. That's necessary to make sure the signal is always stronger than the noise introduced by the amplifiers. (For an explanation see http://www.lightreading.com/boards/message.asp?msg_id=1617

Details of the bandwidth per channel, number of channels and speed were not given. Williams says merely that it used "multiple channels." Corvis declined to comment.

It would be useful to know these details because it would provide more insight into the tradeoffs among bandwidth, speed, and distance. On its Website, Corvis notes that whether carriers use 2.5 or 10 Gbit/s, the CorWave system still tops out at the same aggregate capacity (400 Gbit/s). But since these numbers are based on a system that's billed as going 3,200 km, it's not clear if the same capacity can be achieved with a 6,400 km system.

Corvis does say that it will be possible to combine new developments -- namely, the launch next quarter of a product based on the soliton technology it acquired from Algety -- with CorWave to sidestep these tradeoffs and boost capacity significantly.

— Pauline Rigby, senior editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

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Pauline Rigby 12/4/2012 | 8:54:13 PM
re: Corvis Goes Coast to Coast Changing the amplifier spacing in a network doesn't sound like a small task to me. So how is Corvis going to persuade other carriers to buy its equipment?
Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 8:54:12 PM
re: Corvis Goes Coast to Coast of this story is happening on Corvis board:

toobs2 12/4/2012 | 8:54:10 PM
re: Corvis Goes Coast to Coast MINOR DETAILS :) Number of Wavelengths, Speed of Carriers (OC-48, OC-192?). If they are going to release the news, at least have the substance to report. Heck, maybe they were multiple OC-3's!
areyousure 12/4/2012 | 8:54:10 PM
re: Corvis Goes Coast to Coast Thank you, Darkreading. That was an enlightening post.

Based on the the broadness of your statement, I know what to do with your recommendation.
New_guy 12/4/2012 | 8:54:09 PM
re: Corvis Goes Coast to Coast Please tell us what is it that LR has against Corvis? It seems the writers here go out of their way to find something negative in any story that is printed about Corvis.

I'll be very curious to see how the story is handled when Corvis does announce a new customer..

By the way, when was the last time that SCMR announced a new customer?

In the past week Corvis has announced new products (which LR had to revise their story to admit that the new products are significant) and set a new distance record for transmission without regeneration.

What advances or achievements have its competitors announced recently?

Come on..how about a little objectivity or atleast admit to your bias
industryeyes 12/4/2012 | 8:54:08 PM
re: Corvis Goes Coast to Coast Corvis's ultra long haul system will find great favor with Carriers deploying new builds where amplifier spacing isn't an issue. There are ways around this. Nortel does this all the time, at least they claim to at tradeshows where they increase the spaing from 60 - 100 km.

Speaking of Nortel, has anyone heard a peep out of Qtera lately? They seem to be very quiet about all this. I've heard rumors that they conned Genuity into buying a whole lot of equipment with some sort of special agreement. Their software problems are legendary. So they haven't gotten a dime from the deal yet.

It seems like Corvis isn't the only one with shady claims. I saw a Qtera presentation in which they were going to do this whole network with Cross Connects and the Optera. Haven't heard much of Chiros either.

Atleast Nortel's stock isn't as bad as Corvis's. Maybe they are hiding something up their sleeves waiting for OFC or something.

Come on guys, spill the beans. This mystery thhing is so over-rated.

Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 8:54:06 PM
re: Corvis Goes Coast to Coast I know I'm going to regret responding to these charges of bias but they are so absurd.

Corvis has claimed a very impressive distance record but has declined to provide key information - such as the bandwidth and number of channels - that would demonstrate its true significance.

We're pointing this out. That's all. That's what journalists are supposed to do.

doncam4 12/4/2012 | 8:54:05 PM
re: Corvis Goes Coast to Coast Why shouldn't LR be hard on Corvis or any other vendor for that matter. Let's approach this another way. Everything Corvis says has a marketing spin to it. Are you willing to convince your company to make a significant cap expenditure based on marketing instead of solid, verifiable, engineering facts. If so, you may as well become a Wal-Mart greeter now. Keep up the pressure LR, the truth is out there and maybe one day Corvis will open the "X" files.
Rugger 12/4/2012 | 8:54:04 PM
re: Corvis Goes Coast to Coast It was OC-192.
areyousure 12/4/2012 | 8:54:01 PM
re: Corvis Goes Coast to Coast According to the article that you are commenting on, it states that Williams said it was "multiple" channels.
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