Metro DWDM Action Heating Up
Startups and incumbents alike are racing to build such gear, which would allow telecom service providers to more efficiently roll out metropolitan wavelength services. Sources are saying that Photuris Inc. has won a minor contract with the Enterprise Solutions Group at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). Meanwhile, Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) is said to be readying a product for this fall that will likely compete with the Photuris product.
Photuris makes a reconfigurable add/drop multiplexer (ROADM) with a Sonet ADM packed in (see Photuris Gets New CEO and $40M). The device automatically adjusts power as wavelengths are configured, making it possible to have one optical transport interface for a network that can be remotely controlled.
Photuris and its key competitors, Marconi Corp. plc (Nasdaq/London: MONI) and Tropic Networks Inc., say these new kinds of WDM devices help service providers save money because they can avoid having to manually adjust each wavelength each time something changes (see Tropic: Hot or What?).
Of course, there's the obvious problem: Sales are slow, and capital spending is muted for any kind of newfangled gear these days. Neither Photuris nor Tropic (the two leading startups in the market) has announced a contract with a major incumbent carrier. There's been talk that either startup will need a partner to break into the big leagues (see Metro DWDM Renaissance? ). However, two reliable industry sources say Photuris has sold its box (alone, without a partner) to Verizon's Enterprise Solutions Group, a nonregulated subsidiary that does integration work for government customers and large businesses. One source suggests the reason for the selection could be Photuris's carrier-friendly network management system.
The size of the deal isn't known, nor is it clear whether Photuris's involvement came at the request of a Verizon customer.
Neither Verizon nor Photuris responded to requests for comment for this article.
Analysts say they're not surprised at the rumor, though opinion differs on its significance. "Photuris is in a lot of labs... but if this is true, it would mean [Verizon] has to respect the Photuris platform and approach. They could have bought devices from many companies," says Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst at Infonetics Research Inc.
"I'm not surprised. The enterprise group is not part of the regulated side... If a customer requested it, they could get any product... It doesn't mean a thing as far as getting [other contracts] at Verizon," says Sam Greenholtz of Telecom Pragmatics Inc.
Still, someone endorsed the Photuris, and an ILEC apparently acted on the plea. What's more, it looks as if one major vendor may be taking a clue from such scuttlebutt: Nortel is said to be prepping a metro box for fall release. This product would combine the functions of an ROADM with a DWDM transport box and, possibly, include some switching functions and the capability to add and drop bandwidth in smaller chunks, a source with ties to Nortel says.
Technical details of the new platform are a bit sketchy. The device is called the OPTera Metro Evolution (OME), and it is said to support RPR, generic framing protocol (GFP), storage networking interfaces, and transport all on the same system, according to a reliable source. What's more, it's being designed to take up less space than the OPTera Metro 3500 system, the same source says.
One big question is whether Nortel really has a new platform here, or if it is simply combining some existing technology to flesh out its product line. Last summer, Nortel introduced the OPTera Metro Connect, a system that combined the functions of the OPTera Metro 3500 and OPTera Connect DX optical switch (see Nortel Targets Next-Gen Congestion).
Nortel won't comment on anything related to the OME, but a spokesperson says Nortel's focused on "combining and extending the advantages of next-generation SDH/Sonet and metropolitan DWDM platforms" and will pursue that course for the OPTera Metro 3000 and 5000 Multiservice Platforms.
— Phil Harvey and Mary Jander, Senior Editors, Light Reading