Lumentis Bursts Into 3G
Big deal? Maybe.
This is the first customer that Lumentis has announced, and the only customer that's gotten as far as having a fully operational network, according to Anders Lundberg, Lumentis's CEO. Hi3G is already running trials over the combined DWDM and SDH equipment supplied by Lumentis for its Stockholm transport infrastructure, and the company plans to offer commercial services over it by "the beginning of next year" according to Niclas Lilja, Hi3G's director of communications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
If it proves successful, other contracts could follow. Hi3G is rolling out backbones in other Swedish cities, notably Gothenburg and Malmö. And a success with Hi3G could also open other doors for the startup. The operator is 60 percent owned by Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (Hong Kong: 0013), and its other subsidiaries have 3G licenses in no fewer than six other countries: Australia, Austria, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, and the U.K. These operators are constantly comparing notes on what technologies and strategies work, according to Lilja.
Lumentis believes it's got one heck of a story on helping wireless operators cut costs. Even before its latest development, it claimed a two- to fourfold reduction in metro DWDM costs by eliminating requirements for amplifiers (see Lumentis Cuts Metro Costs ). Lundberg says this brings costs down to the levels achieved by coarse wave division multiplexing (CWDM) without sacrificing scalability. Lumentis's current box supports 40 wavelengths, while typical CWDM platforms max out at eight.
Lumentis has now added a Sonet/SDH module to its platform and claims this eliminates requirements for separate Sonet/SDH add-drop multiplexers, further reducing costs by about 50 percent.
"We have SDH in our blood," notes Pär Johanson, director of marketing and sales at Lumentis. Lumentis's developers spent many years working on SDH development at Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY) before jumping ship to join the startup.
The new module specifically targets wireless operators with a cut-down set of Sonet/SDH functions. In Lundberg's view, something like 90 percent of Sonet/SDH functionality is surplus to requirements for most wireless operators; Lumentis's module simply provides the 10 percent they need. For instance, it handles only STM1 (155 Mbit/s) and STM4 (622 Mbit/s) channels, and it doesn't support automatic restoration functions, which are duplicated by higher-level ATM and IP protocols anyway.
This view of wireless operators' requirements is challenged by Shaul Ben-Nun, product manager of cellular applications at Lightscape Networks Ltd., which has already sold its combined Sonet/SDH and DWDM metro platform to "about ten" wireless operators.
"Everything is highly dependent on the architecture of the operator's particular network," says Ben-Nun. For a kickoff, wireless networks are multi-tiered. The top-level core network, linking together mobile switch centers and the 3G equivalents -- serving gateway support nodes (SGSNs) -- "might" only use mainly high-bandwidth circuits, but plenty of operators still need slower connections, according to Ben-Nun. At the lower levels, requirements for bandwidths as low as E1 (2 Mbit/s) are still common.
Bandwidth requirements also depend on whether wireless operators are rolling out greenfield 3G networks -- as is the case with Sweden's Hi3G -- or are having to handle existing 2G traffic as well. In the latter case, support for lower bandwidths is a requirement, according to Ben-Nun.
So maybe Lumentis has developed its Sonet/SDH module specifically for Hi3G -- not that there's anything wrong with that. As noted, a big success in Stockholm could help the startup win a whole string of other contracts around the world.
— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading