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ONI Systems Touts Access Box

Light Reading
Supercomm News Analysis
Light Reading
5/23/2001

ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS) officially unveiled its Online2500 product today, saying that the product will be demonstrated live at the Supercomm 2001 trade show and will be generally available toward the end of June.

The new product, an access box designed to extend optical networks to multitenant buildings, isn't anything earth-shattering. But it does enable ONI to extend its product portfolio at a time when it's gaining momentum in carrier accounts.

The new product comes as rumors continue to swirl that ONI is in the running for a large contract at WorldCom Inc. (Nasdaq: WCOM) and possibly AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T). An analyst note issued yesterday kicked of the speculation that ONI is the secondary supplier in AT&T's purchase agreement with Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) (see Ciena Signs AT&T... at Last).

AT&T spokesman Dave Johnson confirmed that AT&T does use two primary vendors for all its network elements but said the company isn’t yet ready to disclose the secondary supplier. Light Reading attempted to reach ONI chief executive Hugh Martin to discuss the rumors, but he was unavailable.

The Online2500 product has its roots at subsystem-maker Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR), where it was originally marketed as part of the Opticity product line (see ONI Systems Buys Finisar Folly). ONI acquired Finisar's Opticity gear in February, and, after adding on Sonet capabilities and other features, has brought it to market just a few months later. "This really demonstrates our ability to acquire and integrate other technologies," says Nick Bonfiglio, ONI's vice president of product marketing.

The Online2500 is ONI's first access product, designed to provide high-bandwidth connections to multitenant units, corporate campuses, and storage networks via CWDM (coarse wavelength-division multiplexing). ONI also sells the Online11000, which connects regional and metro networks; the Online9000, which provides links between central offices; and the Online7000, a smaller version of the 9000 that's used to link central offices to buildings.

"It's nice to see that ONI is following us," says LuxN Inc.'s marketing boss, Agnes Imregh. Imregh points out that a key difference between LuxN's WS 3202 and ONI's Online2500 is customers can opt for either DWDM or CWDM using LuxN's gear (see Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM)). "The problem they seem to be having is that the Finisar line is still not completely integrated and the cards aren't interchangeable [with other ONI products]."

ONI retorts that its cards have to be different on that box because the Online2500 is a lower-cost product. "However, the signaling, management, and payloads are completely interchangeable and integrated with the technology powering our other products," says ONI product manager Peter Lunk. The products are also controlled by the same software, which "allows new features that we add to the bit-rate tunable module and the add/drop muxes to be shared across all our products," he says.

Colt Telecom Group PLC (Nasdaq: COLT; London: CTM.L) will be testing ONI's new box next month, and ONI will also be selling to the Finisar customers that have already bought Opticity products, Bonfiglio says.

- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com For more information on Supercomm 2001, please visit the Light Reading Supercomm 2001 Preview Site.

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