Optical/IP Networks

Battle Begins Between FDM Twins

Next week, Kestrel Solutions Inc. (http://www.kestrelsolutions.com) plans to announce the first shipments of products based on FDM (frequency division multiplexing), a technology that enables carriers to cram multiple streams of traffic into a single wavelength.

Within a couple of months, however, Centerpoint Broadband Technologies Inc. (http://www.centerpoint.com) plans to follow suit, upstaging Kestrel by announcing higher capacity FDM developments that'll ship next summer.

Battle will have been joined on a new front in the war to carve out a share of future optical equipment markets. But here's a strange thing: Both vendors' products are based on FDM technology that was first developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. (http://www.lockheedmartin.com). Centerpoint still licenses its FDM implementation via an exclusive agreement with Lockheed Martin; Kestrel says it's now developed its own flavor of FDM.

Why would two vendors go head-to-head for the same piece of optical pie? Because FDM has the potential to become wildly popular with service providers, allowing them to cram exponentially more traffic onto installed fiber lines. That's if it lives up to billing. Since neither company has shipped a product yet there's no way to tell how they will perform on real-world optical networks. Also, FDM technology will face competition from a variety of other bandwidth boosting schemes.

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