Corrigent Joins Metro Ethernet Mix
“All you have to do is look down on that show floor to see that the metro market is crowded,” says Nigel Cole, vice president of corporate development for Corrigent. “But we think our message is different. We’ve already been making significant traction with service providers.”
The company was officially started back in September 2000 with less than $10 million in seed funding (the exact amount was not disclosed) from Israel-based Orckit Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq; ORCT), an international digital subscriber line (DSL) provider. The company got more than just funding from Orckit. It also took most of its management team from there: CEO Ehud Rokach and CTO Eli Aloni both worked there, as did Cole.
For now, the company, which is about to close its first venture-backed round of funding, is keeping most of the details about what it’s doing under tight wraps. But in an exclusive interview with Light Reading, company executives touched on some key themes, focusing on what they consider the sweet spot of the metro area network.
Corrigent’s product is based on RPR technology, which is designed to make Ethernet more fault-tolerant for the incumbent carrier market. But Corrigent has a put a twist on the whole RPR thing, which is also being pursued by Dynarc, Luminous Networks Inc., and Lantern Communications Inc. Unlike the other RPR vendors, Corrigent claims it will integrate functions of other telecom technologies such as time-division multiplexing (TDM), packet convergence, and Sonet management features on one network at a full range of speeds.
What carriers need right now is a more efficient and cost-effective way to carry traffic in the metro, says Cole. Current Sonet gear and even next-generation Sonet hardware from companies like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), and Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) don’t carry data efficiently, because additional unused fibers must be allocated for circuit protection. RPR Ethernet technology solves that problem for data by providing ring protection and allowing for spatial reuse, which is an efficient way to pack more users onto a ring.
Cole says one key element is missing from the current RPR Ethernet approach: It doesn’t handle TDM traffic. The only other company that has included TDM support is Luminous. Cole says that Luminous relies on Ethernet synchronization that doesn't adhere to Sonet specifications, limiting the speed it can handle. But Luminous says it supports speeds up to DS3 (45 Mbit/s). The company claims its stratum clock is more stable than the Sonet/SDH clock. Based on this technology, Luminous executives say, it is only a matter of time before it will be able to support higher speeds.
“These other companies have maximized the efficiency for data and at the same time have tried to fix the non-carrier-class aspects of packet transport like resiliency,” he says. “We do that too, but we’ve realized that there is also a mix of traffic out there.”
Corrigent claims its box will apply RPR to TDM traffic and support speeds up to OC48 (2.488 Gbit/s). How? It doesn't use Ethernet at the physical layer. Corrigent has developed a new physical layer that uses Sonet-like synchronization and management. The product will be able to interface directly with existing Sonet management systems.
So, what do the experts think about it?
”It’s too early to tell,” says Scott Clavenna, president of PointEast Research LLC and director of research at Light Reading. “But if they are able to do what they say they can do, they’ll have something over other RPR companies that require a separate dark-fiber Ethernet network.”
- Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading