Sycamore Stretches

Sycamore Networks Inc. http://www.sycamorenet.com has joined a growing band of vendors developing ultra-long distance transport technologies.

It plans to launch a product by the end of the year that will be capable of transporting optical signals over 4000 km without electrical regeneration, according to a report from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter http://www.msdw.com.

The product will use a combination of forward error correction, advanced dispersion compensation and Raman amplification, according to the report, which is based on a briefing from Sycamore's CFO, Frances Jewels.

Sycamore itself confirms that it is working on a product but says details haven't been finalized. "We're working with customers on what their needs are," says Bill McCullen, director of product management for transport products in the core networking division at Sycamore.

Several other vendors are further ahead in developing ultra long distance transport (see Going Long On Light). Leading lights include Alcatel SA http://www.alcatel.com, Corvis Corp. http://www.corvis.com and Nortel Networks http://www.nortelnetworks.com, via its acquisition of Qtera Corp. http://www.qtera.com

Sycamore's move is seen as defensive by Scott Clavenna, principal analyst at Pioneer Consulting LLC http://www.pioneer.com. "Sycamore doesn't push the envelope in hardware innovation," he notes. "Instead, they develop sophisticated software. But with competitors doing ultra long haul DWDM, they can't just sit back and continue to evolve their software for the current platform without adding the latest and greatest hardware."

That point has been driven home by Sycamore's experiences with its biggest customer, Williams Communications Group http://www.williams.com, according to Clavenna. Corvis rather than Sycamore now looks as though it will supply ultra-long distance gear to Williams, he says, adding that Sycamore "missed an opportunity to get in there for a $200 million contract." Sycamore says that the jury is still out on that particular issue. Williams is testing Corvis equipment, but Sycamore will continue to win the majority of Williams' business, it says.

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

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