Corvis Solo in Bake-Off Boast
The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency has turned another corner in its closely watched Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion (GIG BE) project [ed. note: we're watching it, it's watching you], and the lone bidder boasting of progress is Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV).
The GIG BE request for proposal (RFP) includes tenders for optical transport gear, optical crossconnects, MSPPs (multiservice provisioning platforms), and IP routers -- all aimed at rebuilding networks for the Department of Defense. The project's expected to draw $800 million to $900 million over two years (see DISA Deal D-Day Approaches).
Corvis says it's been invited by Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), which is coordinating the RFP for the government, to participate in the live testing phase of optical transport gear (see Corvis Gets in GIG-BE Bake-Off). The "bake-off" is set to precede a test at AT&T Research Labs prior to the final selections this fall.
This is the second time Corvis has made public its RFP status (see Corvis Spikes on DISA Talk ), and it indicates the government may be leaving such matters to the discretion of the individual vendors. At press time, Corvis shares were trading at $1.56, up $0.14 (9.86%).
Where’s everyone else? SAIC wasn't talking at press time, and a DISA spokeswoman said the agency could not confirm any selections, but educated guesses abound. In a note to clients Wednesday, analyst Simon Leopold of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. gives the following list of who the firm thinks the shortlisters may be in each equipment category.
- Optical transport and switching:
Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), Corvis, and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU)
- Optical digital crossconnect:
Ciena, Lucent, and possibly Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR)
- Multiservice provisioning platform:
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Lucent, with the third possibly Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. (FNC) or Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT)
- IP router:
Cisco and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR)
It's tough to tell whether these vendors are really out of the running. None of the suppliers listed above is willing to follow Corvis into the limelight by making its RFP status known. Apparently, most want to stay secretive to avoid a face full of egg if things don't work out.
But Corvis seems to think the risk is worth it, though we were unable to ask: Requests for more information on the vendor's press announcement went unanswered.
"I would not be surprised if Corvis got a piece of the contract," says Mark Lutkowitz of consultancy Telecom Pragmatics Inc. He says Corvis's dedication to optical transport may help it against competitors. "This is one time when a bleeding-edge approach may pay off," he notes.
— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading