Dr. Lawrence Roberts
Light Reading: Where do you stand on the debate over the merits of OOO [all optical, or photonic] switches and OEO [optical-electrical-optical] switches?
Roberts: I don’t see any benefit to doing OEO if you can do photonic. Photonic is cheaper.
Light Reading: OEO does allow you to see, or manage, the traffic though, right?
Roberts: If you look at the photonic switches that are out there, whether it’s Corvis or anybody else, they claim that they’re all photonic -- but in reality there are OEO components too. The grooming of traffic and the ability to add an optical stream is something that is fundamentally important, and a pure photonic play will not be able to address that.
Light Reading: What about these really big photonic switches that have 1,000 ports?
Roberts: There’s no use for them yet.
Light Reading: Interesting that you should say that. I heard that there are only maybe 70 sites where you could install them.
Roberts: There’s no use for them anywhere today. The biggest site we can see at the moment has got maybe 10 OC192 [connections].
Light Reading: So the whole OOO market is not really big? And yet, there are about 100 startups trying for a piece of it.
Roberts: I have a similar problem with it. And I have another problem. Once you successfully do photonic switching, it’s so cheap, where will [photonic switch manufacturers] get the revenue? Let’s just count the ports and how many there are going to be and what the market size is going to be. It’s actually in the hundreds of millions at the best.
Light Reading: What about the ultralong-haul market? Some people also think that is a niche market, but there are a lot of players there also.
Roberts: Oh, there’s going to be a shakeout.