Ciena and Siemens Share MCI Glory
No mention was made in Ciena's press release that it's actually sharing the project with Siemens Information and Communications Networks (ICN) -- a point easily missed in MCI's own press release, which gets around to naming suppliers in the very last sentence (see MCI Picks Ciena and Siemens for ULH).
What are the contracts worth?
MCI won't give an overall figure for its project, but the backbone is going to end up carrying all of its traffic, nationwide, so it's, um... big?
MCI also says the vendors will have to compete with each other to win parts of the project, which will be rolled out over a period of three to five years. So there's no saying how much of the project value will be undertaken by Ciena or Siemens.
Jack Wimmer, MCI's vice president of network architecture and advanced technologies, says the vendors' ultra-long-haul DWDM gear differs markedly, but the plusses and minuses balance out overall. "At the end of the day, we get very similar capabilities from both vendors," he says.
Ciena says it supplied the first section of MCI's backbone, which is already carrying live traffic. "Ours is up and running," says Denny Bilter, Ciena's VP of marketing communications. "This is our second recent win for long-haul stuff." The other was the GIG-BE project (see DISA Deal Is Done and Ciena Announces GIG-BE Win).
Siemens has also had a recent big win in the ultra-long-haul DWDM market, with AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T), and, as it happens, it's breathing down Ciena's neck on that one, too (see Siemens Jumps for Juniper and Siemens Has Hopes at AT&T).
MCI's press release says that its ultra-long-haul DWDM project is "the industry's first major deployment of its kind." Wimmer says it has near- and long-term goals. In the near term, MCI expects to be able to eliminate a lot of network elements in its extant backbone, by deploying high bandwidths and by eliminating signal regeneration gear. The simplication and consolidation will lead to big savings in operating costs -- sufficient to justify the whole project without considering longer-term benefits, according to Wimmer.
In the long term, the project will enable MCI to add wavelengths to its backbone "at a fraction of today's costs", he says. It will also result in much faster provisioning times.
Wimmer says MCI evaluated all of the ultra-long-haul DWDM vendors for its project. All-optical systems, such as those offered by Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV) weren't appropriate for the project but are still considered a long-term goal, according to Wimmer. "It's a scaling decision," he notes, adding that MCI has some all-optical equipment under test in its labs.
— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading