Optical/IP Networks

Siemens Has Hopes at AT&T

Siemens Information and Communications Networks Inc. is sending long-haul DWDM gear to AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) for testing (see AT&T Tests Siemens' Optical Solution). But whether it's time to break out the champagne is open to question.

At first glance, the news looks like a triumph for Siemens: The vendor seems to have made the finals in AT&T's long-awaited long-haul RFP, which has taken much longer than anticipated to come to fruition (see AT&T DWDM Hope Dwindles and More Missives on AT&T's Long Haul ). If that's the case, it's beaten out Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and others to win a coveted spot on a major North American incumbent's new optical transport network.

But the size and scope of the RFP aren't clear anymore. Even Siemens acknowledges there have been many iterations. And the key question of whether Siemens will ultimately replace any gear is tantalizingly unclear.

For the record, AT&T has nothing to say on this, beyond that it's testing Siemens's equipment and will only deploy it if and when it proves out in the lab -- a process that could take several months.

It's also not clear just who responded to the long-haul RFP, and neither AT&T nor Siemens will say. One thing, though: It appears to have included transport gear only, which indicates that switch vendors such as Corvis may not have been a factor after all. Instead, the competition appears to have focused on reconfigurable ADMs (ROADMs) for long-haul gear, a decidedly small list that includes startup Innovance Networks.

The product Siemens is offering AT&T is the Surpass hiT 7500, an ROADM with tunable lasers on 80 channels and interface capabilities to 10 Gbit/s. The box apparently also has Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) capabilities. According to various news reports, it has been installed with carriers in Russia, China, and Australia. Siemens spokespeople say it is being scrutinized by several North American incumbents as well (identities on the QT).

As noted, Siemens's gear does not feature switching, although Siemens spokespeople say it is being modified to fit AT&T's requirements.

AT&T's solution has been to install 105 CoreDirectors from Ciena, which, along with more than 700 ONS 15454s from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), are the mainstays of AT&T's optical network so far.

Could that change? Back in June, Siemens ICN announced a partnership with Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR) to create a transport-plus-optical switching solution for sale to carriers, one that includes Siemens transport gear integrated with Sycamore's SN 16000 optical switch (see Siemens, Sycamore Achieve Integration). This integrated product is not the solution AT&T has picked, according to the carrier, Siemens, and Sycamore. But it's now within the realm of imagination that it could be, one day.

"Sycamore was not part of the transport element AT&T requested. They felt that was solved in their network," says Susan Schramm, VP of marketing for Siemens.

At least one analyst thinks AT&T wants Ciena to see that change is possible. "Without being too psychological about it, AT&T is telling Ciena, 'Don't take us for granted. We can go to Siemens,' " says Mark Lutkowitz of consultancy Telecom Pragmatics Inc.

For its part, Ciena had no comment on any potential threat from Siemens.

But Schramm says Siemens would be ready if AT&T ever chose to open up a switching bid. It has the Sycamore alliance, and there are hints that other features are being added to the 7500 as it makes the rounds with various carriers.

Clearly, there's a lot of ground to cover before the issue is raised. Siemens must make it through its paces at AT&T Research Labs. The carrier must install the gear. And it's unlikely that Ciena, once warned, would stand by and let Siemens eat its lunch -- without a fight, anyway.

There's another message here as well -- namely, that a major incumbent is looking at long haul and ROADM, and that vendors who aren't taking those areas seriously could wind up paying a penalty.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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Lichtverbindung 12/4/2012 | 11:14:09 PM
re: Siemens Has Hopes at AT&T Let me translate the AT&T Press Release :

Siemens has won the AT&T LH RFP and will be deployed in the network as soon as they deliver on a couple promises they have made. AT&T labs will check these details.

Congrats to our German friends for winning a tough battle in America.

solver 12/4/2012 | 11:14:07 PM
re: Siemens Has Hopes at AT&T LR,and all the Corvis stock speculators,

This is VERY VERY old news that you just won't accept. Very few stock pickers called this in May already, and no one believed it back then.

With all the talk of "all-optical" or "ULH" since the bubble, only Siemens' EDFA+Raman based DWDM system (MTS in 2002) has been commerically sold around the world. Not Corvis, not LU, not Ciena (until Gigbe goes live).

1000km is the sweet spot not 4000.

Dig it? Get used to it.
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 11:13:59 PM
re: Siemens Has Hopes at AT&T It is rather surprising to me that AT&T did not disclose its RFP to many other qualified vendors. In fact, the company would have received more than one solution and different grades of performance. In fact, Siements has dual advantage over other suppliers in that it is a service and a very prominent telecom equipment vendor.

I have no faith in AT&T and its commitment to fairness, AT&T has created a nightmare for its shareholders and customers. AT&T was completely destryed by Armstrong. I also have no faith in the AT&T Board. It gave Schact and McGinn to Lucent that lead to eventual destruction of Lucet.
dave77777 12/4/2012 | 11:13:58 PM
re: Siemens Has Hopes at AT&T >>>With all the talk of "all-optical" or "ULH" since the bubble, only Siemens' EDFA+Raman based DWDM system (MTS in 2002) has been commerically sold around the world. Not Corvis

solver 12/4/2012 | 11:13:06 PM
re: Siemens Has Hopes at AT&T Dave,
don't make everyone laugh with that broadwing BS.
We are talking about reputable tier-1 global carriers in China, Russia, Australia, and now AT&T
Not some fly by night outfit like BW, who featured a screaming chimp in its commerical.
BTW, putting lab equipment into your own network when tier-1 customer don't want to buy does not constitute sales.
Time for a reality check!

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