Optical/IP Networks

Ocular Announces First Product

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- OFC2001 -- Startup Ocular Networks Inc., which recently raised $30 million in funding, says it holds the key to solving a fundamental problem in bandwidth services -- the provisioning of a T1 line (see Ocular Gets $30M in Second Round).

Today the company announced its first product, the OSX 6000. At first glance, it looks like many of the other switches in the crowded multiservice provisioning market. Such switches can aggregate wide ranges of traffic, including traffic forms such as TDM, IP, and ATM. But Ocular claims its OSX can handle all these formats with a single switch fabric that will simplify the provisioning process for service providers (see Ocular Sees a Single Fabric), enabling carriers to more quickly offer T1 (1.5 Mbit/s) circuits to customers.

How? The product operates as a crossconnect that can groom traffic at the T1 level. Ocular says the OSX 6000 takes advantage of its single fabric to pack thousands of T1s into a single telco shelf. This makes it ideal for deployments closer to end-users, where circuits can be provisioned much more quickly.

How does Ocular compare to competitors? The OSX 6000 can handle over 9000 V 1.5s (this is the equivalent of a T1) in a single shelf, says Doug Green, Ocular's vice president of marketing. Compare this to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK), whose edge switches each handle 672 T1 circuits, and Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) (through the acquisition of Cyras, supposed to have the densest product on the market), which supports 1344 T1 connections. On the data side, the OSX in its first release handles 64 Gbit/s of capacity. This is in sharp contrast to Cisco’s 15454, which only handles about 1.5 Gbit/s per switch module.

By going after existing competitors with a higher-density product, Ocular has a shot at the market, say some analysts.

“CLECs are still finding T1 provisioning a large and very profitable part of their business,” says Scott Clavenna, president of PointEast Research LLC and director of research for Light Reading. "At the same time they are definitely trying to keep costs down, which means reducing space for equipment so they can save on leasing space in colocation facilities and reducing power consumption.”

Although it’s theoretically true that a Redback or a Ciena box could rival the IP switching capacity of the OSX 6000 if all the module slots were filled with switching fabrics, using slots for fabrics would waste valuable ports that could provide service to customers.

But Clavenna adds that Ocular -- along with several other startups like Appian Communications and Coriolis Networks Inc., which are also going after the edge market -- faces one shortcoming. The young startups lack the depth in product offerings that carriers seek. Competitors like Ciena and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR), which can offer metro area network gear along with core switching solutions, have the upper hand.

The company claims that it is currently in trials with one interexchange carrier, a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC), and a cable concern. Full production shipments should begin in the first half of this year.

-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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