Metro DWDM: Another Leap Forward?

Swedish startup Lumentis AB announced today that it had secured a 100 million Krona (US$10 million) first round of funding for developments that could set new standards of flexibility in metro DWDM networks (see Swedish Startup Completes 1st Round).

The startup plans to take advantage of developments in tunable lasers, tunable filters, and MEMS-based optical switching subsystems to develop what amounts to a third generation of metro DWDM gear, according to Lumentis's CEO, Anders Lundberg.

The ability to change wavelengths and reroute them quickly will enable carriers to deliver bandwidth to customers where and when they want it, without having to run their networks inefficiently, according to Lundberg. The use of tunable devices will also reduce component counts in Lumentis equipment, reducing costs and improving reliability, he adds.

Right now, however, Lumentis is at an early stage of development. On the plus side, it was founded by seven former members of the metro DWDM development group at Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY), so it clearly has some technical talent. It's also got a big name -- DB Industrial Holdings AG, a subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG -- to stump up its first found of finance.

On the minus side, Lumentis isn't planning to set up in the U.S. for a couple of years, which probably indicates when it expects to ship products.

Lumentis has also picked a problematic name. Another company called Lumentis Corp. already exists in the U.S. and owns the dotcom URL (Sweden's Lumentis has www.Lumentis.se). To make matters worse, Lumentis is bound to get confused with similar sounding U.S. startups such as Luminent, Lumenon, and Luminous Networks.

Existing metro DWDM vendors also raise questions about Lumentis’s claims. “Flexibility often comes at a price and a performance premium,” says the technical marketing manager at a metro DWDM vendor, who requested anonymity.

He also casts doubt on the availability of tunable filters. “I don’t know where you’d get them from,” he says. It’s going to take time to convince carriers that tunable components and switches based on MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) are reliable, he adds (see Optical Switching Fabric).

-- Peter Heywood, international editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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