With the sushi devoured and wine flowing, the attending throng heard how the hundreds of entries had been scrutinized by the judges, comprising Heavy Reading analysts and Light Reading editors, and shortlists picked. (See Leading Lights Finalists .)
They also heard how this year's awards included the inaugural Readers' Choice: Person of the Year accolade, chosen, in part, by Light Reading's discerning readers.
Without further ado, we'll start with that category.
Jagdeep Singh, CEO, Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN)
Singh's optical firm, which held its IPO in June and already plans to raise more cash, is one of the most talked about in the business. (See Infinera Goes Out – And Up and Infinera Aims to Raise $113M.)
And it's clear that LR's readers believe he has done a lot to change the face of optical networking in the past year, as he attracted nearly 53 percent of the readers' votes, leaving Tech Mahindra Ltd. 's CEO Vineet Nayyar (16 percent of the votes) and Carl-Henric Svanberg, CEO of Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) (15.7 percent), way behind in the silver and bronze positions.
Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS)
This leading maker of cable and data networking gear trades at a discount to the market, with a price/earnings ratio of 10, so it has got plenty of room to move. Arris is also now perceived as a leading consolidator of cable networking gear -– that may be weighing on the stock now, but we think it will pay off later.
Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. FLASHWAVE 9500 Packet Optical Networking Platform
The Fujitsu team isn't flashy, but they know optical transport. The Flashwave 9500 proves that point by offering Sonet/SDH, optical switching, and Ethernet transport all in a single device that was built from scratch. The 9500 is currently in trials with carriers, and we've heard it's a frontrunner for Verizon's "god box" packet optical RFP. The packet/optical space is hot, and the 9500 looks like it's come along at just the right time.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) Virtual Private LAN Service
With the first nationwide rollout of its VPLS, the carrier's Verizon Enterprise Solutions division is very well placed to capitalize on the shift enterprises are making from legacy Frame Relay and ATM services to Ethernet connections. Verizon's service meets one of the key criteria demanded by business users with nationwide coverage in the U.S., and has also laid the groundwork to expand this service globally in 2008, which truly sets it apart in scale.
Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)
Ericsson opened its purse late last year and acquired a string of companies -- Redback Networks Inc. , Entrisphere Inc. , Tandberg Television , Mobeon AB , LHS Group , and Drutt Corp. –- that have made it a major competitor in the IP routing, IPTV, and broadband fixed access sectors, adding to its strengths in mobile networks and managed/outsourced services. And it only cost $4.2 billion...
Nortel Networks Ltd.
Like it or loathe it, PBT (Provider Backbone Transport) has been one of the major telecom industry talking points of the past year, and that's largely down to Nortel's efforts. As well as shouting about its early PBT wins and developments, it created the Carrier Ethernet Ecosystem, which brings together vendors from the chip level all the way up to control-plane software that want to play a role in PBT's development. Nortel is pushing hard for the technology, and it's gotten the entire industry to at least listen, even if they don't like what they hear.
RGB Networks Inc.
The cable sector is hot for acquisitions -- that's one factor in favor of RGB Networks. But the video processing company is building the foundation for a possible IPO as well. Customers include the big hitters you'd want to see: Charter Communications Inc. , Cox Communications Inc. , and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) -– and Comcast Interactive Capital is an investor. The company isn't profitable yet but expects to be there next year, with revenues of around $60 million.
ip.access Ltd. 's Oyster 3G
The Oyster 3G femtocell helps operators provide cellular coverage and capacity in homes, while pocketing a few bucks for better service and more data usage. As the first femtocell to use HSDPA, the Oyster 3G allows downloads of up to 7.6 Mbit/s into the home on mobile devices and radio-enabled laptops. That's cutting edge and cool, while still being a potential game-changer for mobile operators.
BitGravity Inc. 's Smart CDN
BitGravity has entered the increasingly competitive content delivery network (CDN) market to challenge larger players with its custom-built server and software combo for high-def content delivery. BitGravity says its approach trims hops and reroutes, allowing its CDN to perform at speeds roughly four times faster than its rivals.
Brix Networks Inc.
This year Brix hammered away at its message –- "Service Quality Matters" -– through viral marketing campaigns, event marketing, Webinars, and tradeshows. The message appears to be working, as Brix's sales grew 50 percent from 2006 to 2007 and are in line to grow another 50 percent this year.
Thanks to all the companies who entered and congratulations to all the finalists and winners.
— The Staff, Light Reading