Cedar Point Pockets $15M

Cable softswitch vendor Cedar Point Communications Inc. announced this morning that it has closed another $15 million in funding, bringing its total funding to date to $85 million (see Cedar Point Scores $15M).

The round was led by by Focus Ventures and included participation from existing investors Ascent Venture Partners, Battery Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Comcast Interactive Capital, JPMorgan Partners, Motorola Ventures, and Star Ventures.

In addition to supporting current product demand, Cedar Point says it is using its bucks to go Euro. In fact, the vendor already claims to have some early inroads with a local partner and a service provider trial.

The company, which has been peddling its hybrid TDM/VOIP switch for some years, has built itself a comfortable customer base in the Americas. (See Cedar Point Connects With Comcast, Cedar Point Goes Caribbean Cablemas Selects Cedar Point for VOIP, Cedar Point Wins VOIP Contract , Cedar Point Scores in Argentina, and Cedar Point Hits a Triple.) Now it believes Europe -- which has 147 million homes passed by cable systems, according to Kagan Research -- harbors commercial possibilities as its cable operators consider network upgrades and triple-play (IP voice, video, Internet access) possibilities.

But Cedar Point isn't rushing into Europe with an open wallet. The company plans to grow as demand dictates, and to work through local partners, says Jim Gayton, the Derry, N.H.-based marketing director with responsibility for Europe.

And it already has its first local partner, an integrator called Base Technologies (no Website found) in the Netherlands. "Base has found us our first deal, and we're in trials with an operator," says Gayton, who can't name the prospective user.

The Netherlands has a number of prominent players, including Casema NV, Essent Kabelcom BV, N.V. Multikabel, and United Pan-Europe Communications NV (UPC) (Nasdaq: UPCOY), and it also has several smaller, local providers.

With more than 1 million Dutch broadband users taking their connections from a cable operator -- accounting for more than a third of the country's total high-speed Internet access connections -- the opportunities for IP telephony over broadband cable are attractive.

But the competition is intense. For instance, Casema and Essent are both working with Siemens Communications Group on their VOIP strategies (see Siemens Wins Dutch VOIP Deal). And Gayton knows he'll be coming up against other incumbent equipment providers, especially Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). (See NetCologne Picks Alcatel for VOIP and Nortel Wins Cable VOIP Project.)

Gayton says he has seen a mix of these companies in tenders, but "I haven't seen a deal where Cisco hasn't been involved in some way." (See Cisco Wins German Cable VOIP Deal, Cisco Notes Cable NGN Momentum, Cisco, Yankee Analyze Euro Cable, and Cisco, Motorola Drive CMTS Market.)

Heavy Reading analyst at large Graham Beniston, calls Cedar Point "one of the leaders, if not the leader, in integrated softswitches for cable systems. Cedar Point had two options for growth -- to market the same product in new territories, or to market a telco product in the territories where they're already established. The first option is good, as long as they stay focused on the cable sector."

Cedar Point still has plenty of work to do, however, especially in gaining the confidence of European service providers. For example, other vendors, such as Alcatel and Nortel, tout their compliance to Europe's cable telephony standard, known as Euro-PacketCable (see Nortel Softswitch Gets Euro OK). Qualification for this standard comes from tests organized by the Euro-DOCSIS Certification Board (ECB). (See Cable Products Get Euro-Certified.)

In an email response to a question regarding European standards qualification, Cedar Point says it's "developing a timeline for Euro-DOCSIS certification." The vendor says it has no issues of urgency because the Euro standard is very similar to the PacketCable qualification it has already received.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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