Corvis Eliminates EDFAs

Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV) today announced two new products targeting regional networks and submarine cables (see Corvis Expands Product Portfolio).

The products aim to carry up to 800 Gbit/s per fiber on cables with no intermediate amplifiers for distances of up to 350 kilometers. The CorWave XL supports terrestrial connections and the CorWave XF supports point-to-point and festoon subsea connections. Festoon refers to applications where subsea cables are looped along a coastline, linking multiple landing points.

Corvis says that it will ship these products in the second quarter of this year, and that they mark a real breakthrough. Its press release quotes Andrew McCormick, a senior analyst with Aberdeen Group Inc., saying that Corvis is “first to commercialize Raman amplification.”

It’s “disruptive technology,” according to a quote attributed to David Huber, Corvis’s president and CEO, in the press release. It will enable Corvis to target new markets and new potential customers, it says.

At first glance, all of this may seem a little confusing from two points of view. First, Corvis’s existing products have already been used in trials demonstrating that optical signals can be carried over much longer distances -- up to 4,000 kilometers -- without needing regeneration (see Corvis Drives 4,000 Kilometers...).

Second, established vendors of submarine cable systems say the use of Raman amplification on unrepeatered subsea cables isn’t new. It was first demonstrated six years ago, when STC Submarine Cables -- now part of Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) –- showed a system driving 16 channels of 2.5 Gbit/s over a distance of 426km at the European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC) in 1995. The demo was repeated over a distance of 511km at the Optical Fiber Conference (OFC) in the same year.

Alcatel has now installed a commercial system of this sort in Canada, according to Eric Brandon, manager of Alcatel’s unrepeatered system design team. In lab experiments, Alcatel has already demonstrated a system carrying 32 channels at 40 Gbit/s over 250km and plans to unveil a system carrying one terabit a second over 350km at OFC next month.

Other submarine cable system vendors have also developed Raman amplication products. NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY), for instance, says that it can already do 640 Gbit/s over 350km.

However, Corvis’s claims stand up to scrutiny on closer inspection.

Here’s the score. Nowadays, most of the fiber that's installed on long-haul routes incorporates EDFAs (erbium doped fiber amplifiers). The EDFAs are sections of special fiber that are spliced into the normal fiber every 60 to 80 kilometers. The outer cladding of the fiber is pumped with light from a local laser, and this boosts the power of the actual signal passing through the core.

Raman amplification works on a similar principle, but in this case, there’s no need for special fiber.

The distance records of thousands of kilometers that Corvis (and other vendors) have achieved are over fiber fitted with EDFAs. The new products unveiled by Corvis achieve a maximum distance of 350 kilometers without EDFAs. That's the key point.

Likewise, the records claimed by Alcatel for Raman pumping over unrepeatered subsea systems are for fiber that incorporates “at least one EDFA” according to Marc Fullenbaum, an Alcatel product marketing manager. The “unrepeatered” term refers to the absence of electrical regeneration of the signal, not the absence of EDFAs.

The lab experiment that Alcatel will report at next month’s OFC carried 100 channels of 10 Gbit/s over 350 kilometers of fiber incorporating one EDFA. Corvis says that its new products will support 320 channels of 2.5 Gbit/s or 80 channels of 10 Gbit/s over the same distance, with no EDFAs. Right now, this is a claim. It’s yet to be proved in trials.

So, is eliminating a single EDFA such a big deal? It probably is, in that EDFAs involve putting power down the cable to power the lasers that drive them. “It’s not cheap,” admits Fullenbaum. Having lasers at the bottom of the sea also raises questions about reliability.

-- Peter Heywood, international editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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LightBeating 12/4/2012 | 8:56:09 PM
re: Corvis Eliminates EDFAs Peter,

I know exactly the difference between the two systems. However, I don't have time to write a tutorial every time I write on this message board. Nevertheless, the expertise you gain in designing a system that transmits over 3200km without electrical regeneration, but WITH optical amplification, is useful if you have to design a system with a shorter span, but WITHOUT optical amplification. The issues of dispersion and nonlinearity management are the same.

I reiterate the opinion that there is probably already a customer waiting for this product in the sideline.

LightBeating 12/4/2012 | 8:56:09 PM
re: Corvis Eliminates EDFAs iprsvp and others,

Wow! I feel a lot of resentment, if not pure hatred, in all those messages. I still don't get it why everybody has this fixation on the so-called secrecy about Corvis' products. I see enough detail on their Web page to understand exactly what they do and what the advantages are. My guess is all of you who are so resentful of this secrecy wouldn't understand the first word about it anyway, or else you work for competitors, and would really love to know the fine details about HOW the products work.

There is probably only one very good reason why Corvis has developed this new product: upon a customer request, and given that they already had the expertise on Raman amplification and long distance transmission of a large number of channels (not a trivial task). I wouldn't be surprised at all if they would announce a customer for this product in a few weeks. And the reason why it's not based on Algety's techology is that Algety is hard at work on the Qwest system, as could be understood from the last conference call, and that is due no sooner than Q32001.

I think it's a very good sign if Corvis expands its product line, and eventually its customer list.

For all of you who were crazy enough to buy Corvis at $100, you were the victims of your own beliefs, as were many other investors who got caught in last year's fenzy over everything optical. It's certainly not Huber's fault if people were willing to pay that much. I think if you have read Corvis' S1 filing and done enough due diligence, you will realize that they have always been conservative in their promises, and so far they have always delivered more than what they promised. The only glitch is the lack of new customer announcement, but we can see that this is the general context in which the industry is operating at this moment, with all the uncertainty about capital expenditure. Look at how many other companies have revised earnings for 2001! Hopefully, this will improve later this year. We all have to be patient (I try to be!)


CoopP 12/4/2012 | 8:56:08 PM
re: Corvis Eliminates EDFAs

Way to go LB, some of us citizens are behind you all the way! People always criticise the actions of others without having all the facts. Sure, it not new but if it puts money in your pocket...'Nuff said

GW Pearson 12/4/2012 | 8:56:06 PM
re: Corvis Eliminates EDFAs Guys,

I've just got finished my "three year tour" with the technical working group of three giant Pacific cable systems: China-US, Japan-US, and APCN2. So let me tell you what I've learned about Corvis and submarine cables.

Festoon systems have been offered by EVERY submarince cable vendor for years. And, true, Alcatel has offered a Raman amplifier as a COMMERCIAL product for a number of years as well for submarine cable systems. So, Light Reading is absolutely correct in these statements.

Nonetheless, I think the submarine cable owners would very much embrace Corvis' entry into submarine cables, even if it begins with festoon systems. There are just not enough vendors in this space (and yes, NEC is one of the newer members of this group.) There is no doubt that the ability to go very long distances without regeneration is extremely valuable in trans-oceanic systems. The longest all-optical span in the world is the southern segment of China-US, now under test, which is over 12,000-km in length.

Stories about Dr. Huber or dumb marketing statements aside, Corvis was the first supplier to bring ultra-long haul to terrestial systems. I hope very much they decide to apply their skills to the submarine cable market as well. And, if other ultra-long suppliers wish to join (e.g., Nortel, Sycamore, Ciena, Lucent, and anyone else), so much the better! It is an exciting and challenging market, but again, we need more suppliers in this space.

lightreading 12/4/2012 | 8:56:04 PM
re: Corvis Eliminates EDFAs LB:

So Corvis' know how to launch at high-power - big deal. Listen, we all (at least I) intimately understand the issues with with ULH transmission like power management, dispersion, non-linearitites, etc...

"I reiterate the opinion that there is probably already a customer waiting for this product in the sideline."

Unfortunately you can't run a public company on "opinions" and statemenets like "probably". "Probably" doesn't exist in the vocabulary of the SEC, or investors.

Why didn't they launch with a customer and endorsement (SOP for credible companies, in case you weren't aware)? Becuase they don't have one.

Everyone knows the so-called trial they did with Broadwing was 2-4 channels. Who cares about that? That's nothing special. And they have done nothing to show anyone they can do anything better. In this business, no news is bad news. And right now Corvis has: now news on customers, no (detailed) news on products, and no news on their techincal capabilities. Whether you like it or not that all translates into NO NEWS.

I could go on forever but really, all you need to do is CHECK THE SCORE (ticker: CORV) to see what this all translates to. Basically, from a high of 114 to 21...

BTW: I do NOT work for a competitor.

areyousure 12/4/2012 | 8:56:04 PM
re: Corvis Eliminates EDFAs "Guess what these are not really new
products. They are JUST "tampered"
version of their regular cor wave
products. "


"Looks like they are running out
of options."

Not surprised you have this opinion, iprsvp :-)

My view is that this truely shows the power of the Corvis Corwave product line. If it is "JUST" a tampered version, then it shows that they don't have to change much of their manufacturing process to get this product out and they already have a backlog of $650 million in gear:


This means they can ship the product with minor adjustments.

Sounds like they are "using" ALL their options to crack into more markets.

OK. Here's a test. Please name another competitor and which "existing" equiment they use that can fit both these market needs. No future product. I want shipping gear.

Corvis is doing the smart thing. If it doesn't cost them anything to really do the XL and XF, then why NOT expand into a new market at minimum expense? I don't understand why this is a bad thing.
flanker 12/4/2012 | 8:56:04 PM
re: Corvis Eliminates EDFAs The original Corvis product was appropriately positioned to develop a long-span festoon/spur product. Nobody understands Aberdeen's remarks in the press release, but Corvis is the first AMERICAN manufacturer to formally introduce a festoon/terrestrial spur product.

They are not the first US manufacturer to implement spur/festoon solutions. But right now Cisco, Ciena, Lucent and Nortel have never publicized deploying 150km+ configurations for point to point long haul.

photonic314 12/4/2012 | 8:56:03 PM
re: Corvis Eliminates EDFAs Its not that it is a bad thing to be versitle...it is a bad thing to rely on a marketing department that got its word parsing techniques from Bill Clinton...remember what is the definition of the word is!

Make claims that have factual substance, not hype...I can't wait until the bell head analysts become optically aware...and begin to recognize hype from substance...then maybe companies that have true innovation and desruptive technologies, will be recognized for their achievements!

Unfortunately, money that is raised today in most of these companies doesn't go to developing innovation...it goes to the over inflated marketing departments!
photon2 12/4/2012 | 8:56:02 PM
re: Corvis Eliminates EDFAs Any idea how much the Corvis system really does cost?? My guess is Broadwing overpaid....
areyousure 12/4/2012 | 8:56:01 PM
re: Corvis Eliminates EDFAs lightreading, you said:

"Everyone knows the so-called trial they did with Broadwing was 2-4 channels. "

State your source, please.

In my experience, this "everyone" isn't very credible if that is all you have. Please state the article and or person you got the information from so we can judge for ourselves the validity of your statement. Otherwise, it really is a worthless statement.

"Why didn't they launch with a customer and endorsement (SOP for credible companies, in case you weren't aware)? "

Like when Cisco launched their Monteray box with Cambridge...yeah that was really "credible". They totally financed Cambridge with CASH (not stock) to use that box. Maybe some of us posters should start a company so that Cisco can fund us to "prove" their Equipment "objectively". Have you heard of Cambridge deploying this box since their press announcement with Cisco?


"Credible" Companies do not always post "credible" news.

Corvis wouldn't have released this product if they didn't believe there was a market for it

Do you know what the market is for this festoon/repeaterless gear? Apparently you believe so because you seem to "know" that this was a bad move for Corvis, so please state your research in your next post so that we may all benefit from it.
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