Corona Networks Disappears

Corona Networks Inc., a six-year-old IP edge router startup, seems to be in the dumper, raising questions about its partnership agreement with Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA).

Rumors of Corona Networks' demise are rampant; sources say the doors shut Friday and that 60-odd remaining employees are gone. Many phone numbers given on the company Website no longer work; and at least one office, in Cary, N.C., seems to have become the property of a townhouse developer.

Voicemail still works for several Corona Networks execs, including CEO Ramandeep Singh, but none returned calls. Today, an assistant in the offices of VC firm Redwood Venture Partners LLC said Bharat Gupte, a director at Redwood who's familiar with Corona, had confirmed the startup's closure.

Gupte didn't return calls and email at press time.

The news and the secrecy aren't surprising. Corona's been struggling for months with layoffs and funding crises, while trying to keep things quiet (see Headcount: Mississippi Spurning).

A big question is: If Corona Networks is history, what will happen to a deal it had to supply Alcatel with a broadband remote access server (B-RAS) for the French vendor's 7301 DSLAM? That deal originally appeared to help Corona get $8 million in Series D funding back in April (see Corona Gets a Boost).

Alcatel isn't saying much. "We can't comment on the situations of other vendors," says Jay Fausch, senior director for Alcatel's Fixed Communications group. He says Alcatel will live up to any customer commitments it's made to put that B-RAS module into Alcatel's 7301 DSLAM. But he won't comment on how many such commitments have been made.

Reportedly, in choosing Corona Networks for the B-RAS job, Alcatel shunned Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) last year (see Redback, Alcatel Close to Alliance). Now that things may have changed, could talks reopen?

Redback wouldn't comment at press time. Still, in an interesting ripple, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), an investor in Redback that competes with Alcatel in broadband access and other areas, has reduced its stake in Redback, officially in order to pare down "liquid assets." In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) dated Monday, Nokia said it owns a 3.4 percent stake in Redback, compared with 10 percent owned last year.

Still, it's not clear whether Alcatel would consider a reduced stake an improvement over a large one.

Alcatel faces a challenge now, since other makers of compact B-RAS products include companies that compete in one way or another with Alcatel: Cisco Systems Inc.(Nasdaq: CSCO), Copper Mountain Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: CMTN), Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), and Network Equipment Technologies Inc. (net.com) (NYSE: NWK), for example (see Carriers Want a Little B-RAS on the Edge).

NOTE: Please note that Corona Networks is not to be confused with Corona Optical Systems Inc., another startup that makes optoelectronic components and is still operating.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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skeptic 12/4/2012 | 11:32:36 PM
re: Corona Networks Disappears i read your posts frequently and i must say you have excellent industry knowledge and insight, however on this occasion your spidey senses are way off - indeed you have lived up to your name!

- Where are the customer announcements?

- What exactly is the compelling value of the
platform as you see it?

- What is the competitive advantage over
similar products in the space.

I hear people mindlessly talk about this thing,
but every time I probe (here or elsewhere)
I dont get much of a story beyond vague hype
about how "great" it is.

Please. Point me to public information that
gives some vague clue as to why anyone should
be fanatical about this thing.

lightreceding 12/4/2012 | 11:32:35 PM
re: Corona Networks Disappears What about Timetra. They are a stand alone router. The device that Corona was making for Alcatel was an IP service blade to insert in a DSLAM. What ever is happening with Timetra is only tangentaly related to Corona.

The question to ask here is what is Alcatel doing with regard to IP DSLAMS? Are they going to abandon them or develop a blade in house or maybe position Timetra routers next to the DSLAM to offer services. In which case we can question if Timetra is ready and what will Alcatel do with them, as they have a history of firing or losing too many key people to keep any product they acquire such as with Assured Access or the Power rail Ethernet switch company.

We could also look to Nokia and ask what about Amber and that might provide a clue. Apparently they fired many Amber people and have stopped development on the router and are trying to us the technology for a GGSN or whatever. That kind of change of plans is what seems to happen when these larger companies make acquisitions.
rush21 12/4/2012 | 11:32:33 PM
re: Corona Networks Disappears

- Where are the customer announcements?

I guess Masergy doesn't count ;-)

- What exactly is the compelling value of the
platform as you see it?

Density, horsepower, price, VPLS feature set and hierarchical QoS

- What is the competitive advantage over
similar products in the space.

See above. The last three were the big things for us.

We tested it, we bought it, we use it, and we love it.

firstmile 12/4/2012 | 11:32:33 PM
re: Corona Networks Disappears It is my understanding that they have one or two customers. Please note that I have also heard that the acquistion paperwork is FILLED with milestone comittments that Basil and his team have to continuously meet in order to get paid.

As far as Basil is concerned, he may be a fast talker, but he is a very smart and ethical guy. He defined a subset product space at Timetra and is on his way to fully delivering a focused product in that space. Let's give him a hand instead of beating on the guy. There is some scum in this industry, but he is not part of it.

As far as the Corona deal with Alcatel, I am surprised by their demise. However the datasheet for the ISM2 (the product that Corona was building for ALA DSLAM) is available on Alcatel's web site (but hard to find), so I think the product is available. And I'm sure that Alcatel owns the IP (as in Intellectual Property). But, the product does not look very cool. Looks like a real power hog etc.

Just my two cents.
listen2this 12/4/2012 | 11:32:32 PM
re: Corona Networks Disappears 60 people are out of work as of friday.
what do they get for all their hard work
after this place is sold??
lightreceding 12/4/2012 | 11:32:28 PM
re: Corona Networks Disappears Milestones are an Alcatel trademark. What happens is that the design team now has to deal with the Milestone committee and there can be a lot of conflict over which features should be on the milestone list so development can either slow because of conflick or go off in directions that the Milestone committee thinks is appropriate.
skeptic 12/4/2012 | 11:32:27 PM
re: Corona Networks Disappears We tested it, we bought it, we use it, and we love it.
So I assume your with Masergy? Or are you with
someone else where you can't say the name.

rush21 12/4/2012 | 11:32:25 PM
re: Corona Networks Disappears I am with Masergy.

So I assume your with Masergy? Or are you with
someone else where you can't say the name.
vn 12/4/2012 | 11:32:15 PM
re: Corona Networks Disappears They get nothing. For some strange reasons this company lasted 4 yrs under incredibly incompetent Indian management and at the end maybe Alcatel woke up and saw through the smoke. For a small startup they had quite a few number of managers and directors, mostly Indians and inept. There were a few sharp people but unfortunately they have neither power nor time to right the ship. And apparently now some of the incompetent managers are trying to continue the development of their IP blade in India. I guess these guys must believe in their own lies.
signmeup 12/4/2012 | 11:32:14 PM
re: Corona Networks Disappears The real question regarding Timetra is how you believe the edge market will shape up. Timetra has bet the farm on VPLS services with granular QoS capabilities. The Timetra platform is designed to offer multiple VPLS services per customer/subscriber interface (i.e. VPLS service types for email, Internet, and Private Line services). Each of these can be classified with different QoS parameters. As such, Timetra developed their own asics to handle this level of granular QoS. The CLI is also designed to configure multiple customers/services. I had the opportunity to perform some beta testing earlier this year and found the CLI to be overly complex, requiring me to configure multiple layers for a seemingly simple configuration (in fact, I had several PAGES of configuration data for a very simple configuration).

The problem with this is it assumes that ALL carriers want to offer granular service types for individual customers. In my experience this is exactly opposite of what the carriers want to do. If carriers wanted more complexity per end user, they have the appropriate tools within their existing ATM & frame infrastructures to do so without having to upgrade.

As a final note, while the hardware was impressive, the software I tested was somewhat unstable, crashing at least 4-5 times during the testing for no apparent reason. In one case, I was simply unconfiguring an interface when it core dumped. I would hope these were a by-product of a beta build, however it appeared that the software was several generations behind the hardware.
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