Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch

BALTIMORE -- NFOEC -- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) on Monday made a series of announcements reflecting a drive into the core of telecom networks and the desire to boost sales to RBOCs (regional Bell operating companies) and ILECs (incumbent local exchange carriers), the telecom companies that control most of the capital spending in the market for equipment.

The company announced it has added capacity to its long-haul dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) product and completed a series of software interoperability tests for its next-generation Sonet add/drop multiplexer (ADM), in addition to adding numerous features to its optical networking product line.

The company also announced that its leading Sonet product, the ONS 15454, has completed OSMINE (Operations Systems Modification of Intelligent Network Elements) certification, which means it works with operating systems from Telcordia Technologies Inc., the firm that makes 80 percent of the operating systems used by RBOCs. Sales to RBOCs take several months and, as telecom equipment firms go, Cisco is relatively new in expanding from the enterprise data networking market to the optical networking market.

All of these moves point to Cisco beefing up its products for RBOC and ILEC networks, where spending is more stable (though still falling) than the beaten-down CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier) market that Cisco fomerly targeted. Company officials also pointed out that even though it is no longer marketing an optical switch, it is still interested in products targeting core telecom networks.

"We left the core switching business, but we haven't left the core," says Carl Russo, vice president of Cisco's Optical Network Group, referring to the Cisco's cancellation of its Wavelength Router product line.

Russo says that there's no reason for Cisco to leave the core DWDM market, because it's still growing.

He says the networks that have the most traffic demand in long-haul networks are those that are either less than 600 kilometers or those in the 1500km to 2000km range. "We have the ONS 15800, and you can probably tell where we're going from there."

Cisco does have two advantages in its race to land some RBOC and ILEC customers. First, it is the market leader in next-generation Sonet add/drop multiplexers (ONS 15454), with more than 600 customers to date. "If we don't execute, our competitors will run all over us," says Russo.

Second, Cisco has accepted that the service-provider market, unlike the enterprise data-networking equipment space, is not a place for instant gratification. "The mood inside of Cisco is that we've taken a good understanding that selling to ILECs is a long process," Russo says.

To this end, the company continues to upgrade capacity and features on its DWDM products, where its progress hasn't been as successful as in the metro Sonet market. Cisco added out-of-band forward error correction (FEC) and L-Band transmission capabilities to its long-haul DWDM box, the ONS 15800. These technologies, respectively, help fix corrupted bits of data in a stream and increase the channel count. The company has also added 32 channels of DWDM to its Sonet product.

The ONS 15800 can now handle 64 OC192 (10 Gbit/s) channels per fiber and is best used for transporting data over networks where regeneration stations (and the cities served) are less than 600km apart, says Jim Sauer, director of product marketing for Cisco's Photonics Business Unit.

Cisco acquired the ONS 15800 product from Pirelli in 1999. The product now has 25 customers, including a few companies whose networks Cisco has helped finance, such as Cambrian Communications LLC, Velocita Corp., and Cogent Communications Inc. The ONS 15800 customer set also includes France Telecom SA; Infostrata, the Italian CLEC; and Global Crossing Ltd. (NYSE: GX), which were Pirelli customers before Cisco acquired its technology. Cisco has been shipping OC192 capabilities with the box since 1998 and now has more than 3,000 OC192 transponders in service around the world, says Sauer.

- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
westmoreland 12/4/2012 | 8:06:45 PM
re: Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch
Cisco Systems Inc. on Monday made a series of announcements reflecting a drive pellmell into the core of telecom networks.

"Were going back in time to 1995," said John Chambers putting on a space helmet. "It was safer then. And the food was better."
whose 12/4/2012 | 8:06:39 PM
re: Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch "We are Cisco," declares CR, "and you, RBOC, should be honored to do business with us...for no other reason than - We are Cisco..."
green 12/4/2012 | 8:06:39 PM
re: Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch sonet is a 30 year old technology designed to carry voice traffic. so rather than saying next generation sonet, maybe, people should start calling these boxes "more money down the drain" generation boxes.. look toward RPR if you need real next generation boxes..
LightCycle 12/4/2012 | 8:06:33 PM
re: Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch > sonet is a 30 year old technology designed to
> carry voice traffic.

Funny, they said a similar thing about TCP/IP. And guess what...

> generation boxes.. look toward RPR if you need
> real next generation boxes..

Ultimately, its not about a "next generation" box or whatever, its about services, lowering the cost of services, increasing flexibility, increasing service velocity, etc etc.

Whether or not RPR delivers those attributes remains to be seen. Whether or not the current range of next generation SONET gear delivers those same attributes also remains to be seen.

Right now I wouldn't be so sure to bet one against the other. Market forces are a weird thing.
firstScreen 12/4/2012 | 8:06:32 PM
re: Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch Do you really think that when Cisco comes out with a new product, does this because the market is clearly going in that direction?
Did they abandon the wavelength routing (WR) core market because of the market? I don't think so. It's quite clear from the latest announcements that the WR had other types of problems.
They didn't abandon the 15800 market segment because they thought that they could earn some penny more than what they spent in the Pirelli acq.

schwin 12/4/2012 | 8:06:32 PM
re: Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch "Cisco acquired the ONS 15800 product from Pirelli in 1999." - LR

the 15800 is suited for <600 km spans?? wasn't this the Qeyton product? if it was pirelli, why did they buy metro wdm from Qeyton?

botermalujilly 12/4/2012 | 8:06:29 PM
re: Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch The 15800 is Long-haul. The 600 kms they're talking about refers to the maximum distance between regeneration stations that perform OEO. There will still be line sites within the span at 60 to 100 km spacing.
Brattain 12/4/2012 | 8:06:27 PM
re: Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch green wrote: "sonet is a 30 year old technology designed to carry voice traffic..."

The first SONET box appeared around 1989.
my math says that's 12 not 30 years ago.
mikeward 12/4/2012 | 8:06:18 PM
re: Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch SONET/SDH is expected to be around for c. 20yrs and ATM for at least the next 5...

New doesn't necessarily mean good.
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