Optical/IP Networks

OFC Report: Day Two

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- OFC2001 -- With the second day of OFC under way, product announcements took a back seat to macroeconomic concerns and general observations about the telecom market.

Corning Inc.’s (NYSE: GLW) reduction of its earnings and revenue guidance put the optical deployment slowdown on everybody’s minds (see Corning Reduces Guidance). Such news reminds everyone that the optical industry is in the midst of a powerful cyclical downturn, and not many executives here have much of a guess as to when growth will ramp up again (see Components Companies Chill Out).

But optimists would point to the 40,000 attendees at the show, more than double last year’s attendance, as evidence that the industry is experiencing hypergrowth and that any short-term obstacles such as capital spending adjustments are growing pains that must be endured (not unlike Monday's opening-day glitches experienced by visitors to the show itself -- see Crowds and Smoke Mark OFC).

40 Gbit/s vs. 10 Gbit/s

On the matter of growth, product news announcements were heavily weighted toward 10-Gbit/s technology, despite Monday’s glimpse at next-generation 40-Gbit/s (see OFC Report: Day One). A number of product announcements delivered cheaper and smaller 10-Gbit/s components, which are evidently becoming the meat of the market.

Indeed, standards developments and a proliferation of OC192 products show the market focused on that corner. The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) announced the adoption of two Very Short Reach (VSR) OC192 interface Implementation Agreements, designed to standardize and reduce the cost of OC192 networks (see OIF Promotes VSR Specs).

Alvesta Inc., which introduced its Model 3100 Optical Transceiver last March, announced yesterday that the 10-Gbit/s product was shipping in quantity to customers. Routing startup Force10 Networks Inc. is the first announced customer, but CEO Brian Button says that more announcements are just around the corner: The company is preparing to close deals with at least a dozen other customers. Alvesta says the modules will cost between $300 and $600 apiece.

Others introducing 10-Gbit/s technology included Multiplex Inc., (see Multiplex Shows Off Transmitter); and Micro Photonix Integration Corp. (MPI), which announced its lithium niobate-based OC192 transmitter (see MPI Launches OC192 Transmitter).

Other Product News

Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR) says it's found a way to "cost effectively bridge the access and transport networks" by making its own transport product, the SN 8000, work more ably with the SN 3000 access box it acquired from Sirocco Systems (see Sycamore Ships Sirocco Product).

It's doing this with the release of two modules that plug into each product. The upshot of these so-called Spur Interconnection Modules (SIMs) is that they help make spurs -- extension networks used to reach towns and business parks that aren't on a network's main optical route -- less expensive for service providers to build (see Sycamore Ships Spur Modules). Using Sycamore's equipment, spurs usually require one SN 3000 at the spur hub site to aggregate traffic from the SN 8000 on the optical route. A second SN 3000 is placed at whatever remote location the service provider is trying to reach.

A number of European players used OFC to introduce their technology to potential American customers. Ilotron Ltd. introduced its Optical Wavelength Switch (OWS) (see Ilotron Invades US Market); and Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) launched an elaborate portfolio of products (see Alcatel Announces a Lot of Products).

Design Tools

Optical networks aren't easy to design, and a small group of vendors is aiming to help carriers get started. OpNet Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: OPNT) has formed a joint venture with a Belgian software company to offer design tools (see OpNet Teams With Belgian Vendor). The company also has purchased software firm Make Systems in an effort to widen the scope of its offerings (see OpNet Acquires Software Firm).

Telcordia Technologies Inc. has spun out a startup company called Network Design Tools Inc., headquartered in New Jersey (see Telcordia Spins Out Design Shop). The group has $15 million in funding from Pequot Capital Private Equity. It already claims to have products shipping to global carriers,including optical component and device simulators, network modeling software for Sonet and WDM, and an economic forecasting tool.

Another firm, Virtual Photonics Inc. (VPI) has released new software that allows groups of engineers to collaborate on the design of broadband components, products, and networks (see VPI Moves Into Systems). VPI says a variety of parameters, including DWDM requirements, can be fed into its system in order to design a network from scratch.

Artis Software, a San Jose, Calif., software company, offers tools to build models of high-speed networks. The resulting models are supposed to help carriers determine ahead of time the most efficient way to set up broadband network services.

Test Equipment

A number of companies introduced new optical testing equipment. Acterna (Nasdaq: ACTR) unveiled the CycloneCore IP Optimizer, aimed at giving carriers a way to install and troubleshoot broadband IP services (see Acterna Offers Troubleshooter). Acterna says the box tests up to 128,000 IP data streams in packet-over-Sonet/SDH networks configured via MPLS (multiprotocol label switching).

GN Nettest has introduced the Trans Expert for testing 10-Gbit/s optical networks (see ). Nettest says the device works with its spectrum analyzers to help carriers install DWDM links correctly. Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) showcased voice over IP (VOIP) and IP virtual private network (VPN) testing tools (see Agilent Announces VOIP/VPN Test Tools).

-- Compiled from Light Reading staff reports http://www.lightreading.com
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