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Optical/IP

MCI's on a New Wavelength

MCI (Nasdaq: WCOEQ, MCWEQ) is back, and it’s bullish on wavelengths.

The independent carrier, which is gearing up to emerge from its restructuring and has plans to invest in optical infrastructure in 2004, says it’s buying new metro DWDM gear from Movaz Networks Inc. to prepare for a surge in new optical services (see Movaz Wins MCI Deal).

MCI sees growth in Ethernet services, storage services using protocols such as Escon and Ficon, and even wavelength services.

Dennis Day, senior manager of Global Transmission and Network Management Engineering with MCI, says MCI is using the Movaz gear to build DWDM rings into its metro points of presence (POPs) as a low-cost way to give customers access to new services, especially Ethernet and storage services for backup and recovery (see SANs on MANs and Standardizing Ethernet Services).

The Movaz deal, announced today, does not specify the quantity of product MCI's buying. The deal is a multiyear agreement and may involve any of the products in the Movaz portfolio -- which includes the RAYstar transport platform, the RAYexpress flexible OADM, and RAYextender amplifier products.

”This addresses the need of customers with new service types,” says Day. "We were looking for a low-cost alternative to the point-to-point ADM."

So does that mean that Sonet is out and DWDM is back in, in the metro? Not quite. Keep in mind that MCI has always focused on coporate data services, and doesn't have the large installed TDM and Sonet base of the RBOCs. But DWDM does make sense in some installations (see Voodoo Econ in Metro DWDM and ROADMs Could Boost Components). And perhaps the biggest boon for DWDM is that the components are constantly getting cheaper (see DWDM Gets Smaller -- and Cheaper).

Day says the move is being driven by the search for an inexpensive way to deliver customers new data services.

”Ethernet is the new buzzword,” he says. "Hopefully, growth in the metro will be a driver, and we are responding to bid requests from customers."



It’s a modest win for Movaz, which is looking for a piece of some metro DWDM business from market leaders Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) and Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN). A handful of startups are also working on next-generation metro DWDM technology -- the reconfigurable optical ADM, or ROADM. These startups include Tropic Networks Inc. and Photuris Inc., as well as a handful of component makers.

Most importantly, MCI's move shows that carriers are still willing to play with DWDM technology in metropolitan networks, despite some fits and starts in that market.

Day would not comment on who lost out in the selection process. "We always operate in a multivendor environment -- we do that for pricing and availability of product."

— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

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