AboveNet Puts Out 40-Gig Feelers
Rajiv Datta, senior VP and CTO of AboveNet, told Light Reading here Monday that he hopes AboveNet and its equipment vendor partners can get the price for such a service down to 2.5- to 3-times the cost of a 10-Gbit/s optical metro transport service.
Datta admits he's not sure if there's a market big enough to support that kind of super-high-bandwidth service yet, but he suspects the market may exist given the number of big companies that have eagerly bought AboveNet's metro 10-Gbit/s service. "It has been off the charts. Very significant," Datta says.
He also notes that his enterprise customers want private networks which are future-proof.
In his keynote here, Datta said AboveNet has a footprint of 1.8 million fiber miles in 15 major markets, with 1,400 buildings connected. Its network, through partners, extends to another 1,600 buildings. The company offers large companies and carriers Layers 1,2, and 3 connectivity on its 10-Gbit/s-optimized network. The service provider's dedicated 10-Gbit/s point-to-point Ethernet service, announced in May, is one of the finalists in Light Reading's Leading Lights Awards. (See LR Names 2008 Leading Lights Finalists .)
Regarding his goal of a 40-Gbit/s metro transport service, Datta says the cost of 40-Gig systems has made this "a concern." He's hoping vendors will agree, along with AboveNet, to take a margin hit to plow this new ground for a service that, should it catch on, could be profitable later.
Datta says AboveNet customers, especially financial firms, obsess over fast networks with no latency or delays. "When the market drops 700 points in a day, and most of that drop occurs in an hour, microseconds can make the difference between making and losing a lot of money," Datta said in his keynote, referring to Monday's stock market action.
The enterprise perspective on optical networks is helpful to vendors here, several of whom are seeking customers outside the big telcos. A panel this morning -– featuring AboveNet's Datta and panelists from Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), and XKL LLC -- will address optical networking for the enterprise, including the increasing use of ROADMs in enterprise networks.
AboveNet has been quiet lately, mired by years of financial restatements that came on the back of an SEC investigation that ended a while ago. AboveNet, founded as National Fiber Network in the early 1990s, gained fame as Metromedia Fiber Network and traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol MFNX. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2002, saying it had overbuilt its network. It reorganized and emerged from bankruptcy in 2003, at which point MFN shareholders were wiped out.
Now the carrier is working towards filing its financial results for recent years, while its shares trade on the pink sheets.
"This is one of those questions that requires alcohol," joked Datta on Monday afternoon when asked by an audience member about his company's revenues. "We just announced the 2007 numbers and, quite honestly, I don't even remember them anymore," he says.
For those still wondering, AboveNet just reported 2007 revenues of $253.6 million and a net income of $13.8 million.
— Phil Harvey, Editor, Light Reading