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Lantern Changes Its Bulb

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
10/24/2002

Lantern Communications Inc., a metro Ethernet switch maker focused on resilient packet ring (RPR) technology, has swapped out its executive team in a new effort to go after carrier business (see Lantern Names CEO).

Today the startup announced that Douglas K. Jacobs has joined the company as president and CEO. Jacobs, who most recently was CEO of Convergence Communications -- a broadband IP access service provider in Mexico, Central America, and Venezuela -- has over 30 years of experience in the telecom industry. He also served as southwestern regional vice president of AT&T Global Network Services and was a senior vice president and chief operating officer of a microcellular business called InterWave Communications.

Jacobs also has experience with equipment providers selling to large incumbent carriers. He was a senior vice president of worldwide sales and services for DSC Communications where he expanded the company’s business with regional Bell operating companies to $1.4 billion. After DSC Communications was acquired by Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), he became senior vice president at Alcatel, where he oversaw a $4 billion operation of sales, service, strategic planning, and internal and external communications for the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Japan.

Nasser Hiekali, Lantern’s founder and previous president and CEO, remains on the company’s board of directors. According to Robert Love, chairman of the Resilient Packet Ring Alliance, and others in the industry close to Lantern, Hiekali was not forced out of the company.

“It’s a strategy that makes sense,” says Love. “The biggest concern for all these startups is getting customers. And you need people that understand the carriers and have contacts within the carriers. Personal relationships go a long way.”

Jacobs will definitely have his work cut out for him as he tries to sell the company’s RPR technology into incumbent networks. The company hasn’t yet announced a customer, and its first product was released over a year ago at the 2001 Supercomm tradeshow. This is in contrast to metro Ethernet players like Atrica Inc., which has announced a contract with France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE) (see Atrica Plugs Into France Telecom).

The obvious stumbling block for the company is the fact that carriers aren’t spending much of their capital expenditure on any new technology. But it also doesn’t help that the RPR standard, upon which Lantern is basing its product, is not yet standardized. Love says he hopes that the RPR working group will be able to get the ballots out to voters after the next meeting in two weeks (see RPR Gurus Set Fall Deadline).

RPR technology supposedly provides Sonet-like resiliency to Ethernet or other Layer 2 transport rings (see Resilient Packet Ring Technology). The problem that many vendors have with the technology is that it requires a new MAC layer, which means that in order for carriers to implement the technology they will need special interfaces. In other words, it is a feature that can only be added with a hardware upgrade.

The hype that surrounded RPR in its earlier days seems to be waning.

“RPR is dead,” said Gordon Stitt, president and CEO of Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) in a recent interview. His company uses a proprietary ring resiliency technology that requires only a software upgrade to its switches, says Stitt.

While most analysts and venture capitalists agree that metro Ethernet is still hot, the verdict is still out on RPR.

“VCs have gotten pretty skeptical on RPR,” says Fred Wang, a venture capitalist with Trinity Ventures. “RPR is going to happen at Cisco, but VCs don't see it as a standalone product opportunity at this point. In terms of the Metro Ethernet application, though, some of the startups seem to have some traction.”

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com

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hitekeng
hitekeng
12/4/2012 | 9:29:03 PM
re: Lantern Changes Its Bulb
True that seamless and standards-compliant RPR will require hardware upgrades. Vendors-specific implementations (Nortel's OPE, Cisco's DPT, ..)will however be gaining some traction for the next 2 years in existing SONET networks. The premise of offering reliable Ethernet services such TLS and 1Mb/s scalable bandwidth at relatively low OPEX/CAPEX spending makes RPR attractive in this severe downturn...
green
green
12/4/2012 | 9:29:03 PM
re: Lantern Changes Its Bulb
a couple of points

1: why was there no mention of Luminous Networks ?
they announced customers too..

2: DPT is the closet technology to RPR that cisco has. it is positioned as providing efficient IP/video transport but no mention of toll-quality voice like Luminous does. the customer list on cisco website doesn't show any major carrier either.

3:Atrica "claims" to provide 50ms recovery. have they ever demonstrated it?

4:Extreme's announcement was a surprise. has anyone seen this "super software upgrade" in action?
Belzebutt
Belzebutt
12/4/2012 | 9:29:02 PM
re: Lantern Changes Its Bulb
Nortel's implementation only requires a card that you'd have to get anyway, an Ethernet interface.

Not much of a hardware upgarde.

AAL5
AAL5
12/4/2012 | 9:29:00 PM
re: Lantern Changes Its Bulb

Oops I missed one, 'sme' instead of 'Some'. Any way congratulations to the boys at 'Bell Labs' big improvement.

AAL5
AAL5
AAL5
12/4/2012 | 9:29:00 PM
re: Lantern Changes Its Bulb
Strange,

Bobby didn't make any spelling mistakes.

The guys at Lucent must have incorporated a spelling and grammar checker into the latest version of the BobbyMax A.I. script.

They may even be working on incorporating some logic algorithms.

AAL5
BobbyMax
BobbyMax
12/4/2012 | 9:29:00 PM
re: Lantern Changes Its Bulb
RPR was in trouble for a long time. The RPR standards were never adopted overwhelmingly. In fact, any technology that attempts to replace SONET/SDH will have a limited or no success.

Sme companies such as Cypress even acquired the RPR technology and Luminous made aot of hype for its RPR ring.

All RBOCS have a stringent procurement process. So whether Mr. Jacobs or someone else heads the company is not likely to make a difference in terms RPR procurement. RPR is a risky technology and I do not see RBOCs employing the RPR technology.
Litewave
Litewave
12/4/2012 | 9:28:59 PM
re: Lantern Changes Its Bulb
The premise of offering reliable Ethernet services such TLS and 1Mb/s scalable bandwidth at relatively low OPEX/CAPEX spending makes RPR attractive in this severe downturn...

Who are you kidding.

A swarm of vendors are implementing X.86 and GFP based trasport/switching of Ethernet over SONET/SDH platforms at cost points far below any of the RPR platforms out there (including Nortel's kludged half-F* RPR solution, OM3500).

There is practically zero value proposition for RPR in today's market.
hitekeng
hitekeng
12/4/2012 | 9:28:55 PM
re: Lantern Changes Its Bulb
Belzebutt says "Nortel's implementation only requires a card that you'd have to get anyway, an Ethernet interface. ..Not much of a hardware upgarde"
-----
Granted and this is exactly what I am saying. No hardware upgrade is required for the proprietary implementation of RPR on each vendor platform. Hardware upgrades MUST however be made for compliance with the forthcoming industry standards being churned out thru the RPR alliance (Cisco & Nortel already part of it along with so many others...).
xrboc
xrboc
12/4/2012 | 9:28:52 PM
re: Lantern Changes Its Bulb
A swarm of vendors are implementing X.86 and GFP based trasport/switching of Ethernet over SONET/SDH
***********************
The problem with this, is that X.86 supports only ethernet. It does not and will not have any support for other things such as storage applications. Second, I see ethernet in the wide area as great, how do you do a meshed vlan configuration with X.86? You don't because it requires a cross connect between every site. What the customer wants is the ability to share an STS-n across multiple sites, not just on the local ring.

GFP still has a way to go and it will be the accepted encapsulation for the providers. It gives them more flexibility in the services that they can offer.

RPR does have life, it just better be able to get through the spending crunch.
achorale
achorale
12/4/2012 | 9:28:43 PM
re: Lantern Changes Its Bulb
"...the RPR standard, upon which Lantern is basing its product, is not yet standardized..."

For the purists:

If it is not standardized yet, then RPR can't be a standard, isn't it?
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