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Optical/IP

AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles

Roughly two years after AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) sent out a request for proposal (RFP) for ultra-long-haul DWDM equipment, the project looks to be delayed, again.

According to sources in the industry, the field testing portion of the RFP was supposed to begin in either the first or second quarter of 2003. But now, they say, those plans have been pushed back to at least the fourth quarter.

Michael Dickman, a spokesman for AT&T Research Labs is adamant that the project has not been halted in any way, but he confirms that the next stage of testing won't likely happen anytime soon.

"The RFP is still ongoing," he says. "We haven't set a timeframe for the trials to begin, and we don't know when a final decision will be made." Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) have been mentioned as the top candidates on the carrier’s shortlist. Corvis has been considered a favorite for the past couple of months. The potential contract might represent do-or-die business for Corvis, whose quarterly revenues have dwindled to the single-digit millions.

It's likely that startups like Ceyba Inc., Innovance Networks, and Xtera Communications Inc. have not made it past the lab-testing phase, according to several sources. But AT&T Labs has not confirmed which vendors are still being considered.

"We are not currently looking for more vendors," says Dickman. "We feel we have a sufficient number of candidates to review for the project."

This latest news further pushes out the date that AT&T will likely deploy any of this gear. Most experts had been predicting deployments sometime in 2004. But if field testing won't occur until the end of 2003, deployments could be pushed back to 2005.

“I haven’t heard anything about the trials in a long time,” says Mark Lutkowitz, VP of optical networking research at Communications Industry Researchers Inc. “It would surprise me very much if anything got done with this ultra-long-haul RFP in AT&T’s network for a long time.”

The testing process first began in late 2000 when AT&T issued the RFP. It then received written proposals from many vendors. In 2001, the carrier began testing gear in its labs. The final stage of the selection process was to be a two-part field-testing program, in which only select vendors would be asked to participate.

Several industry sources claim that those who participated in the lab trials were asked to pay a fee of $2 million to $3 million just to get into the test. Dickman of AT&T wouldn’t confirm or deny this, saying that the details of the RFP are proprietary.

The trial has dragged on so long that even without the supposed lab testing fee, all of the vendors participating in the process have already spent hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to win this contract. But the contract that was once valued at about $50 million is likely to be worth much less than that. AT&T wouldn’t discuss details.

“Whoever wins this contract won’t likely recognize much revenue from it,” says Lutkowitz.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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optiplayer 12/5/2012 | 12:25:31 AM
re: AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles I know its juvenile but I just can't stop laughing at the name of the AT&T spokesman. Anyone involved in this RFP knows how appropriate that name is.

The rumors about lab fees are accurate and the fees are on top of the millions of dollars of gear that the vendor must donate to T. Carriers can do this stuff when the market is dwindling and there are 16 vendors chasing it.
single mode figure 12/5/2012 | 12:25:28 AM
re: AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles [email protected]= Another Test & Tease. These guys are like Stalinist Heavies, first you bring equipment, let us fondle it, and maybe you get it back or something akin to a compliment.

I think the malaise continues, and I am hoping that I live to see the day that AT&T gets into the hamburger business. Can you imagine that might be able to serve a couple a week.
lightshow 12/5/2012 | 12:25:26 AM
re: AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles Optiplayer & single mode figure have both hit the nail on the head!!!
Well, I think that we should start a campaign to have all AT&T customers switch to a competitor.....let's see how they like being screwed around with! Having had AT&T cell service, all I can say is that they SUCK!!!! Ok, enough bashing.

Maybe someone can shed some light. The AT&T RFP was for a point to point system, yet the article states that Corvis is in the lead. I would think that from a Point-to-Point perspective, there are much better vendors than Corvis. Is there a shift in the thought of the next generation build out? As well, I see Xtera and Ceyba mentioned.....what about Innovance? They are usually there on the heals of Corvis, and from what I gathered, they have a much better product (though no deployments as of yet, but then again, there is nobody deploying now).
zettabit 12/5/2012 | 12:25:24 AM
re: AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles Substitute the words Qwest or Sprint for AT&T, and what is written here applies equally well at those carriers as well. All 3 companies have been evaluating "express" networks using various form of ULH or next-gen WDM or photonic technologies for 1-2 years, and are still far from any decision.

The key thing is there is no NEED for a decision. They have plenty of capacity in their networks to meet their near-term needs, and right now an overbuold is a "nice to have".

I go back to my previous post:

http://www.lightreading.com/bo...

There is no way the existing, and near-term, market will support the breadth of vendors still around. At best, half of them will dissappear in a few years. At worst, even some of the big players will realize that they cannot support the R&D expense of new product development in the face of such a lean market.

So you'll have Innovance, Ceyba, Xtera, and Photonex quietly dissappear over the next 12 months. Corvis and Sycamore will gradually run out of cash leading to shareholder revolts (will somebody end up "overthrowing" Huber), while one of the "big boys" will get out of long-haul optical - I predict it will be Lucent.
dgroves0 12/5/2012 | 12:25:23 AM
re: AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles When I saw this article, I thought that of course the ATT project is being pushed back for GIGBE - DUH. The same companies are involved and the government wants it NOW!

The idiot analyst thinks that ATT is only going to put long haul in for $50 million? What are they doing, their headquarters?

With the new rulings about not sharing new fiber optic networks, even if it is in the courts for years, the prudent thing for ATT to do would be build there own best in class, nationwide network. $50 million- I don't think so! They have time and can wait for GIGBE to finish, but then watch for the big contract!!! They NEED their own network.

DAVE
zettabit 12/5/2012 | 12:25:22 AM
re: AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles Hey dgroves0,

What the #$%&#@ are you ranting about? Have you actually calculated the cost of an ULH backbone at low initial fill with ultra-aggressive pricing from vendors?

The days of carriers deploying DWDM systems fully equipped with transponders on every wavelength are gone. And companies like Lucent, Nortel and Ciena are selling at prices at least 50% lower than 2-3 years ago, and prepared to do whatever it takes to sell their wares.

And the court ruling on sharing fiber only applies to I-LECs (ie: RBOCs) and thus does not in any way impact AT&T's long-haul business.
opticalweenie 12/5/2012 | 12:25:21 AM
re: AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles We all know that size counts, if you
have heard otherwise it is just that you
have a sympathetic girlfriend!
Weenie
single mode figure 12/5/2012 | 12:25:21 AM
re: AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles I understand from people at these startups that they were not taken too seriously due to their size. CAN you believe that size equates with effectiveness? AT&T is the incredible shrinking giant. Once a true monopoly. Did their size insure good service?
rafaelg 12/5/2012 | 12:25:15 AM
re: AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles "[email protected]= Another Test & Tease. These guys are like Stalinist Heavies, first you bring equipment, let us fondle it, and maybe you get it back or something akin to a compliment."-smf.

How right you are. "Let me make you dance, and if you dance well, I'll think about taking you out for a date."--AT&T
They like to play with your toys and after you modify/change them to their every demand; they either cancel it or delay it. Same M.O. they'd had for years. I've been in an LU department where after ~4-7 millions of research was spend to satisfy "MA"'s RFPs, it was delayed or cancelled. The best part of this scenario is that it keeps occurring repeatedly...The joke is on us.
single mode figure 12/5/2012 | 12:25:12 AM
re: AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles Celion, made up almost entirely of luminaries from AT$T, founded this startup with an office in NJ and Dallas. Interesting that always pushing research does not make them good equipment manufacturers. To date they have not produced a customer or product. Bob K, Jay, lara and the rest, forgetaboutit!!!
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