Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech

Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) is putting its investment in Tropic Networks Inc. to good use, supplementing the 1696 Metro Span system with the trappings of a reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexer (ROADM). (See Alcatel Launches Metro Span.)

Sold by companies including Mahi Networks Inc., Movaz Networks Inc., and Tropic Networks Inc., ROADMs are systems that allow quick and easy wavelength switching (see Who Makes What: ROADMs). Ideally, the ROADM would let service providers remotely add and drop wavelengths at any node at arbitrary times. Most of the available designs are based on a wavelength blocker, an element that kills off a particular wavelength.

Alcatel had teamed up with Tropic this year, making an undisclosed investment in the startup. In exchange, Alcatel became a Tropic reseller and also pledged to use the ROADM technology in the 1696 platform. Tropic, being privately held and having gone through four rounds of funding, realized it needed a partner to help bolster connections with service providers, and a connection to Alcatel was theorized as early as 2003 (see Alcatel Tops Up Tropic, Tropic Takes $20M, Looks to Partner, and Photuris & SBC: The Inside Story).

ROADMs have been championed mostly by startups. The idea is catching on with larger vendors this year, albeit slowly. Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) announced a deal with Movaz to work on ROADMs, and Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) introduced ROADM functionality with its Common Photonic Layer DWDM platform (see Lucent & Movaz Seal Deal and Nortel Intros DWDM Platform).

"The big players are coming on board, and I don't think they're behind the market," says Sterling Perrin, an analyst with IDC. "ROADMs created a lot of buzz during Supercomm in June, but I think the technology is going to see a cautious rollout."

The ROADM market is small, but it's getting lots of attention because North American carriers are captivated (see Vendors Race for Reconfigurability). MCI Inc. (Nasdaq: MCIP), SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) are among the carriers that have shown interest in the technology.

"There are some indications a market will be emerging in Europe and Asia/Pacific, but right now it seems to be mostly taking off in North America," says Tom Fuerst, Alcatel vice president of strategic marketing.

Fuerst claims no particular knowledge of when those carriers might deploy ROADMs, though. "I would say over the next two quarters," he says.

Alcatel expects ROADMs to be confined to newly built networks for the near future, with upgrades to standing networks to come later. "As people get more comfortable with the technology, we're going to see more overbuild or network extensions come into play," Fuerst says.

IDC's Perrin adds that the "new" buildouts for ROADMs will likely be capacity increases on already installed routes. "We're not anticipating or seeing a lot of new routes being built out there," he says. "It's more an upgrade of capacity."

A second wave of ROADM technology is already in preparation, with component firms including Capella Photonics Inc., JDS Uniphase Corp. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU), and Metconnex developing what's called the wavelength-selective switch. But those parts could be a year or more in waiting for mass production; Alcatel wanted an option it could deploy right away, Fuerst says.

In addition to the ROADM functionality, Alcatel is making use of Tropic's optical channel monitoring, which helps balance the optical power of all channels each time a wavelength is added or dropped. Such events can cause the power level of all other wavelengths to change, potentially creating problems downstream in the network.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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PO 12/5/2012 | 1:14:01 AM
re: Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech There's also an interview over on Optical Keyhole (www.opticalkeyhole.com) about the Tropic-Alcatel relationship.

It'll be interesting to see how committed Alcatel is to selling Tropic's products within their own product line, as opposed to simply integrating Tropic's technology (which seems to be the current focus of these articles): just what will "in tandem" really mean?
o-man 12/5/2012 | 1:14:15 AM
re: Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech I am lucky I do not compete with Movaz...

I just hope they have a back up plan when volume hits !!)
hee 12/5/2012 | 1:14:16 AM
re: Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech Let's just say that things are going just fine...

...whassa matter o-man? Did you lose too many RFPs to Movaz?

Army of ONE!

hee 12/5/2012 | 1:14:16 AM
re: Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech Is Movaz a 300 person company? I dunno.

You're right about the rich part though.

Balet 12/5/2012 | 1:14:16 AM
re: Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech Unles Movaz got some extra parking spots, I don't think you can fit even 200 cars over there.
Balet 12/5/2012 | 1:14:19 AM
re: Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech Don't you think that having over 50 customers for 300-people company is a dead end?
How many customer support or aps guys do you need?

I think Movaz is going to make it and make a few top execs rich, but it will never make it to the size or glory of real telecom system suppliers (I am not talking about LU, of course)
Good luck, Movaz!
hee 12/5/2012 | 1:14:20 AM
re: Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech Customer wins speak for themselves.

Revenue speaks for itself.

The Partnership speaks for itself.

'nuff said.

o-man 12/5/2012 | 1:14:20 AM
re: Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech r u talking about the LU partnership?

How is LU doing... speaking for your self ofcourse :)

So do you have the revenue numbers for Movaz, the only docs I have seen have been law suites :)

not nuff said...

Atleast the Falcons are doing well haha
o-man 12/5/2012 | 1:14:20 AM
re: Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech cameltoe wrote

Movaz's actual reliability and availability in the network were excellent.

I guess it is all based on expectations!

Does Movaz use a 1 or a 2 9's structure?
CamelTow 12/5/2012 | 1:14:21 AM
re: Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech Movaz's actual reliability and availability in the network were excellent.
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