Ericsson Mines Copper Mountain
Copper Mountain shares jumped on the news, climbing $0.94 (9.78%) to $10.55 in trading on Tuesday. The company’s stock has shot up about 68 percent in the past year.
That Ericsson, an Ethernet DSLAM supplier, is interested in a central office B-RAS is not surprising. Before North American incumbent carriers look to deploy Ethernet-based DSLAMs, they’ll try to provide IP services over their standing ATM infrastructures (see New DSL Network Architectures).
Carriers of all sorts are striving to offer data services more sophisticated than best-effort broadband Internet access. This calls for B-RASs, which serve as gatekeepers for all traffic between the subscribers and the service provider networks.
“When [carriers] move into multiple services, they need to be able to separate the services from one another and provide quality-of-service capabilities, too,” explains Peter Linder, Ericsson's technical director of product area wireline networks.
Why Copper Mountain?
Let’s start with the obvious: They’re still alive. The early players in the B-RAS market didn’t fare well. Gotham Networks folded in June 2002; Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) discontinued the SpringTide product in October 2002; Celox Networks suspended operations in December 2002; and Corona Networks closed in August 2003.
Also, Ericsson needed a more complete B-RAS offering to appease the different types of carriers it sells to. It already is a reseller of Juniper Networks Inc.’s (Nasdaq: JNPR) ERX products, which competes with Copper Mountain’s gear.
Of late, the B-RAS market has become more fragmented. Metro B-RASs, such as the Juniper ERX 1440, sit deep inside networks and serve huge numbers of subscribers. Central office B-RASs, such as Copper Mountain’s VantEdge and Juniper’s E-Series, sit –- guess where? -- in carrier central offices (see Upstream of the DSLAM).
Linder says Juniper’s B-RAS gear is most appropriate for centralized carrier access networks that make use of Gigabit Ethernet uplinks, such as those found in Europe and Asia (see Europeans Tug on Next-Gen B-RASs ). He says Copper Mountain’s solution is better for distributed architectures with ATM uplinks, such as those found in North America.
He also says the technical reports published by the DSL Forum factored into Ericsson’s decision to work with Copper Mountain. Those reports, especially Technical Report 059 (TR-059), outline ways for carriers to update their DSL infrastructures to handle more broadband subscribers, create and charge for differentiated services, and to migrate from ATM to IP backbones (see DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services).
Neither company would comment on the financial particulars of the deal.
— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading
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