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Optical/IP

Movaz Sees 3D

If they hand out moxie awards at next week's Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibit (OFC), Movaz Networks Inc. should at least be in the running.

The latest from this daredevil startup: At the show, it's planning to demo an alpha version of the module it will use in its optical crossconnect product, due later this year -- a module that's based on so-called 3D MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems).

Movaz announced the module, dubbed the integrated Wavelength Selective Switch (iWSS), today (see Movaz Debuts All-Optical Switch). It intends to show a 400x400 version at OFC, made with technology it owns through the ten-year agreement it signed last year with The BF Goodrich Company (NYSE: GR) (see Movaz on the Move).

This takes real cojones. For one thing, carriers right now are about as interested in optical switching as they are in gaining third nostrils. For another, 3D is risky business these days.

"3D is still expensive and unproven," asserts Conrad Burke, senior VP of sales and marketing at OMM Inc., a maker of MEMS components.

At issue is the MEMS technique of using tiny tilting mirrors to guide light through a switch. In 3D MEMS, at least until recently, the approach involved setting up rows of mirrors to move in multiple planes, requiring several subparts that are difficult to design and manufacture efficiently.

Worse, early 3D MEMS switches reportedly suffer from very bad crosstalk -- signal interference that results as the mirrors move from one position to the next. This is reportedly what pulled down development of the Xros switch at Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), an effort that was finally ditched recently (see Nortel Shuts Optical Switch Effort).

For these reasons, 3D MEMS is seen by many as a shaky proposition. Several components companies, including OMM and startup Umachines Inc., say so-called 2D MEMS, wherein mirrors are moving along only one plane, is superior: It's faster, simpler, easier to manufacture, and still perfectly suited to the needs of carriers over the next couple of years.

Movaz thinks differently. By simplifying the design, it hopes to avoid the difficulties Nortel faced with Xros. "Xros deployed three different devices. We must use one module to demux wavelengths from fiber, switch them, and mux them back into the fiber," says Bijan Khosravi, CEO of Movaz. Furthermore, he insists that the proprietary technique developed by Movaz and Goodrich, one which uses freespace optics to mux and demux wavelengths, eliminates crosstalk and other negative effects suffered by 3D MEMS of the past.

He's also confident his MEMS will be easy to make. "We knew the process to build was as important as the design itself," explains Khosravi. For this reason, he says, Movaz has undergone nine separate cycles of design, prototype, and manufacture with BF Goodrich to ensure the new switch will be producible.

Nor is Khosravi worried about relying so heavily on just one MEMS manufacturer. "Goodrich is so entrenched," he says. "They're a huge company."

The small circle of 3D MEMS suppliers may be growing: Earlier this week, Agere Systems (NYSE: AGR) unveiled 3D MEMS components (see Agere Ramps Up 3D MEMS). Transparent Networks Inc. just announced a very large 3D MEMS switch. And Integrated Micromachines Inc. (IMMI) is planning to unveil an 80x80-wavelength switch module based on 3D MEMS at OFC next week. As is the case with Movaz, it remains to be seen how well these emerging solutions overcome the obstacles that have hindered 3D MEMS up to now.

How will the new switch fit into the rest of Movaz's wares? As a high-end augmentation, says Khosravi. While the RAYstar, a 320-wavelength, electrically-based central office switch announced last month, is the company's flagship product, Movaz will fill specific requests for core networking with an all-optical switch based on the iWSS, which is set to debut later this year (see Movaz Makes Its Milestones).

"Our solution offers transport, switching, and control plane features," Khosravi says. He claims he's already got an international carrier and two RBOCs "anxiously waiting" to see the prototypes.

Movaz could use a high-profile carrier contract. While the startup has hit all delivery dates and milestones so far and closed a range of deals with small independent carriers worldwide, it's failed to produce a contract with a key player. What's more, an early defection by Genuity Inc. (Nasdaq: GENU) as a trial customer (reasons undisclosed) didn't help matters.

But, as ever, Khosravi remains undaunted. "We're moving out of the development phase we've been in for 18 months," he crows. "Now we want to grow our business and focus on the RBOCs."

The company has taken a major step in this direction: Within the next few weeks, it's set to announce its Telcordia Osmine certification, a key requisite for any RBOC deal.

Movaz also has a new president and COO, Guy Gill, cofounder and former CEO of Elastic Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: ELAS), who also had a long career at Nortel.

Gill is as enthused as Khosravi: "We have a great unified platform, with the economics to allow service providers to reduce their costs," he says.

Nerves of steel help, too.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com For more information on OFC 2002, please visit: www.nottheofc.com

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high plains drifter 12/4/2012 | 10:48:18 PM
re: Movaz Sees 3D I find it very interesting how the tone of your articles varies depending on the specific company. you guys have a crush on Movaz. any other company spewing this crap would get crucified.

it's amazing that a startup company that is building a product, with new unproven technology - 3D MEMs, that has been put on the back burner (to put it gently) for at least the next 3 years by all major carriers is characterized by you guys as having "cojones" and "nerves of steel". when does it become just plain stupid? we're in a market where the proven leader in the segment with paying customers and hundreds of millions in quaterly revenues, publicly traded ONI, is selling out for a 12% premium $800M.

these guys are a startup building like 4 different products, none of which are complete, none of which carriers have said they're going to buy for the next 3 years. OSMINE certification? with a prototype? and I wonder which major carrier is sponsering them through that process? optical switch companies, startups and otherwise, are going out of business left and right. 3D MEMs is being bashed by the people that developed it.

actually I think the nerves of steel go to Mary Jander for believing and regurgitating the BS that comes out of Kohsravi's mouth. I've said it before and I'll say it again - LR: pull your noses out of Awduche's ass.

skeptic 12/4/2012 | 10:48:16 PM
re: Movaz Sees 3D
You keep talking about them meeting milestones,
but what exactly have they actually done:

- Lots of empty announcements
- Reseller agreements
- A silly project for wavelength services in
rural idaho....which still raises questions
about why a consortium of small rural companies
would go to a unproven startup for the sort of
project they are doing.
- No sign of a real carrier contract or for that
matter much real carrier interest.
- Several mysterous sales in Europe and Japan
through resellers where the customer can't be
named. (which is never a good sign).
- A failed deal with Genuity.


And now, in addition to everything else they
are doing, its 3D MEMS.





FDX 12/4/2012 | 10:48:16 PM
re: Movaz Sees 3D Is there a product here? There is no mention of the product on the website, no specs, no info. Can any Movaz people chime in and convince us that this product is real?
[email protected] 12/4/2012 | 10:48:14 PM
re: Movaz Sees 3D Sorry High Plains.

ONI had circa 400 to 500 cash on the balance sheet so the real deal is worth about $400.

The rest of your post I agree with. OMM had teh elad and if they have discontinued it then you have to question whether or not their will be a market for 3D mems or whether a new technology will supplant it (skip a generation)

self 12/4/2012 | 10:48:12 PM
re: Movaz Sees 3D Has anyone seen these patent Movaz talks about? I have looked under Movaz and BF Goodrich and Advanced MicroMachines and have found nothing that looks like a 3D MEMS design patent.
manoflalambda 12/4/2012 | 10:48:11 PM
re: Movaz Sees 3D Worse, early 3D MEMS switches reportedly suffer from very bad crosstalk -- signal interference that results as the mirrors move from one position to the next. This is reportedly what pulled down development of the Xros switch at Nortel Networks Corp.

Buzz, wrong answer I'd say. My compatriots believe Microfab had it correct in --
http://www.lightreading.com/bo...

Also, any thoughts on where Network Photonics (see Mar FiberSystems Intl) is relative to Movaz or IMMI in terms of development.

Salute,
Manoflalambda
self 12/4/2012 | 10:48:11 PM
re: Movaz Sees 3D Also, any thoughts on where Network Photonics (see Mar FiberSystems Intl) is relative to Movaz or IMMI in terms of development.
______________________________

Given that the core of their system is a 2D MEMS design, I assume that they are targeting a different segment (or smaller/more focused segment) of the space that Movaz and IMMI.
photonboy 12/4/2012 | 10:48:11 PM
re: Movaz Sees 3D I was unaware that OMM had a lead in 3D MEMs technology at any time. They were (and still are) shipping a 2D MEMs switch and I wish them the best of luck. I do not think that they had much invested in their 3-D product and I would be surprised if they even built a decent size prototype.
Second, I don't believe that the Xros box suffered from crosstalk. My impression is that the box simply wasn't scalable to smaller (256x256) port counts.
Third, why exactly is a planar array of mirrors that tilt in one dimension more difficult to manufacture than a planar mirror array that tilts in two dimensions? The control systems is the difficult part, not the manufacturing of the mirror arrays.
The_Holy_Grail 12/4/2012 | 10:48:10 PM
re: Movaz Sees 3D OMM had teh elad and if they have discontinued it then you have to question whether or not their will be a market for 3D mems or whether a new technology will supplant it (skip a generation)
_________________________________________________
"whether a new technology will supplant it (skip a generation)"

Nearly every company that has gone down this path is probably rethinking their business strategy. Especially with RBOCs turtle pace for innovation in deployments. So I don't think the premise of skipping a generation is a viable statement, but believe alternative technology's would be a better statement.

"OMM had teh elad"
Don't they still have the lead? They've been wise in adopting a more sensible approach. They should be applauded for confronting the issue. Just look at what Nortel did with Xros and there were probably good reasons.

manoflalambda 12/4/2012 | 10:48:10 PM
re: Movaz Sees 3D self said:
Given that the core of their system is a 2D MEMS design, I assume that they are targeting a different segment (or smaller/more focused segment) of the space that Movaz and IMMI.


The port counts sounded similar. Network Photonics was saying 8 ports of DWDM in - Drop Mux - Lots of Switches (?) - Add Mux - 8 ports out. (Corvis like?). Is the Movaz architecture similar?

Salute,
Manoflalambda
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