Optical/IP Networks

Cisco, Nortel Score Comcast Wins

(Nasdaq: CSCO) and (NYSE/Toronto: NT) are the big winners in 's (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) fiber buildout, the cable operator announced today.

Comcast says it picked Cisco's CRS-1 core router and Nortel's Common Photonic Layer, including the Optical Multiservice Edge 6500, as part of a new fiber backbone. (See Comcast Picks Cisco's CRS-1 and Comcast Picks Nortel.)

Light Reading had reported both choices in March, shortly after Comcast announced the project. Comcast estimates the complete fiber backbone, running on dark fiber supplied by (Nasdaq: LVLT), will cost $100 million in equipment. (See Nortel Scores Comcast Coup and Cisco, Nortel Vie for Comcast Deal.)

For Cisco, the deal is another big name attached to the CRS-1, the flagship router in the company's IP Next-Generation Network (NGN) architecture being pitched to service providers. Comcast had let the news slip last week by including itself in a Cisco press release and in an LRTV video produced for Cisco. (See Cisco's CRS-1 Goes Optical and IP Routing for Next-Generation Networks.)

The news is likewise big for Nortel. It not only gets a showcase for its DWDM technology but can also claim it bested Cisco, which reportedly bid for the whole project.

Philippe Morin, general manager of Nortel's optical solutions business says Comcast is Nortel's 20th optical win with cable operators in 2005. "For optical, it has really been a good year," he says. Nortel's announced deals in cable optical include Time Warner Cable, Rogers Cable Inc., and Cox Communications Inc. (NYSE: COX).

Inside of Comcast, though, Nortel and Cisco will have to get along. Comcast has initated them both into the Optical Transport Initiative, a Comcast-created collective aimed at making the IP and optical layers interoperate. (See Comcast Melds Optical, IP.)

Meanwhile, Cisco is shifting its product emphasis away from the TDM side of optical networking. The company has told Light Reading it's moving roughly 80 employees out of optical jobs, part of a strategy shift towards more packet-oriented boxes. (See Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs.)

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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