Volpi: First is the converged core. Today most incumbent carriers operate a different core for each service that they offer. The idea is, can they converge that down to an MPLS/IP architecture. I do think the opportunity is out there and that they will spend money on it. The next thing is if you have an MPLS core, you want to have devices which are multiservice at the edge. The way we define multiservice is: It can do ATM, frame relay, traditional lease line aggregation, broadband aggregation, potentially metro Ethernet – all in one box.
I haven't seen a good box in the market that does that because one box or another always has a heritage. It either used to be an ATM switch or it used to be something else...
Light Reading: Do you mean all the way out on the edge?
Volpi: I mean the provider edge. This either points out directly to the customer or points out to the existing provider's ATM or frame relay network.
Light Reading: And what do you have in that market?
Volpi: Depending on the size of the POP [point of presence], the products we would sell today are either a GSR; if it’s a small POP, a 10000; or, if there's a metro Ethernet flavor to it, we'll put a 7600 there.
Light Reading: You're saying there's a vacuum there.
Volpi: I don't think there's any vendor who offers exactly what the carriers want in that space.
Light Reading: So you don't think any of the startups – like Appian Communications Inc., Équipe Communications Corp., or Vivace Networks – fit the bill?
Volpi: My information is pretty dated on the startups because I haven't been looking at them as much. I don't know Appian. Équipe is more into the core. I think Vivace are just MPLS so they don't have as good a story. The problem is that it's a lot of work to get all this stuff done... Basically, carriers want a God box there.
The last market I would characterize as interesting is the cable space. The cable space is interesting for two reasons. One: they're continuing to be very successful in Internet access offerings for consumers. They're about two-thirds of broadband connections now. And two: they're pretty serious about offering new services over those IP connections. They seem very serious about second-line voice. And I think they're getting serious about video.
The other thing is that they're building out their own infrastructure because @Home went belly-up. Across the board, they're bulking up their own competencies in networking, and that's good for vendors that sell to them.
Light Reading: And these guys are more financially free?
Volpi: Nobody's in great shape. But they're better off, relatively speaking.
Light Reading: And this is a big market?
Volpi: It is a good market right now and potentially a very attractive market. The only people that have the financial viability to compete with RBOCs in the local services are the cable operators. I think it’s a good thing for the industry that there be some competitiveness between the two.