Alcatel Tops Up Tropic
The often discussed Alcatel–Tropic Networks link was finally publicized today as Alcatel announced it has invested an undisclosed amount in the reconfigurable add/drop multiplexer (ROADM) maker. In addition to the investment, Alcatel says it will market and distribute Tropic's gear globally (see Alcatel Invests in Tropic).
For Alcatel, the deal signals that the company is indeed serious about winning DWDM business in North America, where it faces competition from Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. (FNC), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and others. For Tropic, the deal gives the vendor a Big Brother to help support its sales approaches to SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC) and other large carriers.
In February 2003, Light Reading reported that a "strategic alliance with another vendor seems key to Tropic's survival." At that time, Alcatel was named as one of three vendors most likely to embrace Tropic. Later, after the demise of rival Photuris, Tropic's Alcatel connection became clearer (see Tropic Takes $20M, Looks to Partner, Photuris & SBC: The Inside Story).
Neither company will discuss the investment amount, nor will they talk about Alcatel's percentage of ownership of Tropic. Tropic CEO Kevin Rankin did confirm that the pairing was because of market demand, specifically "customer interest in North America."
For Tropic, which raised $87 million prior to Alcatel's financing, the investment is part of a larger Series D funding round, the details of which will be available tomorrow.
David Waterhouse, VP of product marketing for Alcatel's optical networking division, says the Tropic relationship doesn't mean that Alcatel is phasing out its 1696 Metro Span DWDM platform, as had been rumored. "They're not products we're going to discontinue," he says. "But with Tropic we will have the ability to introduce additional functionality."
Waterhouse says the 1696 has more than 55 customers worldwide and Tropic's technology will be added to those accounts. In other carrier networks, Alcatel will decide to either integrate or sell Tropic's entire product as a standalone.
Steve Pickett, Alcatel's senior VP and general manager of optical networking in North America, says Alcatel chose Tropic because its ready-to-deploy ROADM technology and its wavelength tracker, which analyzes wavelengths for problems and eliminates the need for some testing gear.
Pickett says the company will give more specific details about its metro product lines later this summer (see Tropic Touts Tracking Approach and Tropic Receives Wavelength Patent).
— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading
For further education, visit the archives of related Light Reading Webinars:
- Long Haul DWDM: Where Is Its Future?
- Metro DWDM 2002: The State of the Art
- Optical Gateways: The Portal to Profitability
- Reconfigurable Optical Networks: Optical Performance Monitors