Lumentis Offers WDM Combo

Lumentis AB has unveiled an optical transport system that runs CWDM and DWDM channels over a single fiber.

The three-year-old Swedish vendor, which began life as a spinoff of LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY), says its approach gives service providers one platform, with one management system, that lets them incrementally add wavelengths to their networks without having to invest in lots of extra boxes. If a carrier wants to add four CWDM channels on top of 32 they've got with their existing DWDM gear, for instance, that's an option.

It's not a unique proposition. Movaz Networks Inc. and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), to name just two, also offer CWDM and DWDM in one box (see Movaz Launches CWDM Platform and Tellabs Enhances Optical Transport). Like Lumentis, they claim to help customers streamline their networks and save operating costs.

Lumentis says it's different in two key ways. First, it's among the only vendors with the ability to run CWDM and DWDM channels across one fiber. Second, it's among the only ones to offer CWDM at DWDM-like distances. According to CEO Anders Lundberg, customers are getting up to 120 km with the CWDM and DWDM channels from the Lumentis box.

In contrast, Movaz does not run both CWDM and DWDM on a single fiber. Tellabs does, but distances typically top out at 88 km, according to a vendor technician.

Lumentis's secret, Lundberg says, is technology that manipulates wavelengths in a way that allows them to travel long distances without amplification. Indeed, Lumentis's platform doesn't contain amplifiers but uses passive components to handle light.

The result is a system that is both low cost and easily upgraded. Mobile operators and high-end enterprise customers, Lundberg says, can not only add channels only as they need them -- they can save fiber costs, too. He says typical users include mobile operators, who wish to expand their networks rapidly but at low cost, and high-end enterprise customers with sizeable data networks.

Lumentis's claims seem to add value to a proposition that's gaining popularity, namely unifying CWDM and DWDM in one unit. "It saves carriers money up front. They pay for low-cost CWDM first, then if they need more channels, they only pay for DWDM when they need it," says Scott Clavenna, president of PointEast Research LLC and director of research at Light Reading.

There are a couple of sticking points. While Lumentis has announced some customers (see Aussie Carrier Picks Lumentis for SAN and Lumentis Wins in Sweden), none has so far attested to using the CWDM/DWDM combination at 120 km. Without proof, it's tough to tell how Lumentis will stand up to competition like that from Tellabs. That vendor also claims the ability to start customers out on cheap CWDM links, then add DWDM to fatten them up as more capacity is needed. If Lumentis indeed goes further with its solution, that might represent a further savings in amplifiers.

Some argue against the need to run CWDM and DWDM on one fiber. Movaz, for instance, says most customers that wish to use CWDM and DWDM together do so to add a protective long-distance circuit to back up a number of cheaper, shorter-reach CWDM ones.

Clearly, Lumentis has something to prove. If it can do so, it may have found a new claim to fame in the evolution of optical transport.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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