Optical/IP Networks

Avici Plays OC192 Card

NEW YORK -- Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7) plans availability of OC192 (10 Gbit/s) interfaces by year’s end, according to Surya Panditi, CEO and president of Avici, who previewed the news yesterday here at the UBS Warburg conference. The availability of OC192 line cards, the highest routing interface available, is of keen interest to those following the core routing landscape, because support of this speed has become critical as a competitive advantage. Juniper's capability to ship OC192 support before Cisco was crucial in its getting a leg up on the routing leader.

Panditi claims that Avici's architecture sets it apart from Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), which has been shipping OC192 since this summer, and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which said here at the conference that it will have OC192 shipping in January 2001 (see Volpi Downplays Cisco Concerns).

“We’ve built this product so that it can scale and grow with a carrier's needs,” said Panditi in a breakout session at the conference. “While being able to support high speeds is not a trivial problem, we feel that tackling the scaleability issue was a tougher problem, and that is what we went after first.”

Panditi said the company has been keeping an excess inventory of OC192 components in anticipation of demand once the interface is shipping.

"This way we will be able to ramp up in the foreseeable future when we need to,” he said.

While OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) links still outnumber OC192 links in carrier networks, it won’t be too long before higher speeds are needed, say many analysts.

“There is no question that a core router needs to have an OC192 interface,” says Nikos Theodosopolous, managing director at UBS Warburg. “But if Avici or Cisco miss their projected delivery date and are off by a quarter or two, it probably won’t be devastating.”

Avici is currently in the early stages of field trials with three carriers: Enron Broadband Services Inc., Williams Communications Group (NYSE: WCG), and Qwest Communications International Corp. (NYSE:Q). Panditi says the company is talking to other carriers as well. But it is important to note that Enron and Williams have been long-term investors in Avici, and Qwest also bought shares in the company before it went public this past summer.

-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

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