Euro CLEC Says 'Oui' to Atrica
Atrica won the bid over Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Riverstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RSTN).
Atrica's gear will be used in Ethernet services for up to 400 of Al-Pi's business customers in metro locations in Spain, according to Nan Chen, director of product marketing at Atrica. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
A source close to the deal, who wished to remain anonymous, says Cisco's Catalyst 6500 switch and Riverstone's RS 38000 Metro Aggregation Router were the other products France Telecom evaluated for the Al-Pi deployment.
France Telecom's evaluation of the equipment used in Al-Pi's network began in September 2001 and wrapped up in March 2002, according to a presentation at the Opticon trade show Monday by Jessie Jewitt, director of infrastructure for France Telecom's research and development division in San Jose.
While Jewitt declined to name specific products in her presentation and tried to avoid discussing the other vendors that were trialed, some audience members noted that the documentation included in the Opticon conference proceedings had some notes that Jewitt left out of her public remarks.
The "main issues with the Cisco solution" included "no end-to-end [software] administration tool" and "no transparency to client's VLANs [virtual local area networks]," according to the notes in the proceedings.
"[Riverstone] did not meet carrier class needs," Jewitt noted. She declined to elaborate when asked to do so Monday.
The Al-Pi network will also include Lucent Technologies Inc.'s (NYSE: LU) SpringTide 7000 IP Services Switch, which will provide virtual routers to enterprise customers in the metro core of the CLEC's network. That switch will shunt traffic to Atrica's A-8000 Series Optical Ethernet Core Switch, which will transport the traffic to Atrica's access box, the A-2100 Optical Ethernet Edge Switch. The connection is completed by another Atrica box at the customer premises.
France Telecom picked Lucent's switch over a similar offering from CoSine Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: COSN), according to one source close to the product testing.
Jewitt says both Atrica's and Lucent's gear are easy to integrate with Al-Pi's existing network equipment and both companies' software management systems are "user-friendly." She says Al-Pi began offering its GIGANET product, which includes secure Internet connections and other IP services, on June 1.
Neither Atrica nor France Telecom would discuss what price targets each equipment vendor had to meet in order to provide the services Al-Pi wanted. "The government was paying. Who cares?" Jewitt jokes.
Al-Pi's Atrica pick represents a trend among European service providers toward offering optical Ethernet as an alternative to traditional leased-line services, according to Atrica sources. Indeed, one service Al-Pi will offer is a point-to-point Ethernet virtual private line service that will give Al-Pi customers faster connections at the same price as Al-Pi’s old 64-kbit/s leased-line service.
Atrica says other European PTTs are using the same approach to optical Ethernet as France Telecom: sticking a toe in regional water before going mainstream. "The trend we're seeing in Europe is that incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) will deploy Ethernet gear in high-growth areas and will use that to test equipment for their traditional networks," says Atrica's Nan Chen.
But even though Atrica's win here does verify that its product can withstand stringent testing by big carriers, sources say it doesn't mean Atrica's gear will find its way into France Telecom's main network any time soon.
"It will be interesting to see if Atrica gets deployed in France Telecom's network, or if France Telecom continues to use them for 'greenfield' deployments in their subsidiaries," says to Scott Clavenna, president of PointEast Research LLC and director of research at Light Reading.
Still, the coup for Atrica can't be denied. Though Atrica's only other announced customer is Hokkaido Telecommunication Network Co., Ltd. (HOTnet) in Sapporo, Japan, Chen says Atrica is being tested by several ILECs around the world.
It's not known how many of these tests involve Atrica's other investors, which include several other large phone companies. Among them are BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), Israeli service provider Bezeq, SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC) (via AurumSBC Ventures), and Telia AB (see Atrica Attracts $75M).
— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading