Movaz Touts Taiwan Win

Movaz Networks Inc. plans to announce today that Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd. has issued a $14 million purchase order for Movaz's metro DWDM add/drop muxes and amplifiers.

The announcement is both good and bad news for Movaz. It's good to see any telecom startup barreling ahead, making friends in the "right" places these days. But Movaz seems at risk of carving a niche as a vendor of OADMs, instead of fulfilling its chosen destiny as a switch provider.

The Chunghwa order, obtained in partnership with Capahill Technologies, a sales firm in Asia, and systems integrator Comtrend, calls for Movaz to ship RAYexpress optical add/drop multiplexers and RAYextender amplifiers to complete a nationwide 21-ring metro DWDM network for Chunghwa's range of services. The network's set for installation over a four-month period with completion by June.

What's missing from the order is RAYstar, an optical switch integrated with an OADM that's a key feature of Movaz's product line. Movaz CEO Bijan Khosravi hints that may come in time. "This is just a beginning," he says. He's hoping the current deal will help Movaz successfully bid on another piece of the same network, potentially worth $20 million to $40 million over this year and the next. Khosravi didn't provide details on what products would be part of the RFP, nor the timeframe for the new bid.

Khosravi says the latest win at Chunghwa is for different parts of the carrier's infrastructure than the ones for which Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) have announced contract awards (see Juniper Wins at Taiwan ISP and Chunghwa Picks Nortel DWDM).

Khosravi has made several similar announcements in recent months, some of them easier to ignore than others (see Georgia Tech Picks Movaz). He's also found himself the focus of scuttlebutt and rumor-mongering, the usual fate of vocal startups (see Movaz: Go Away, We're Fine).

What remains to be seen is whether all the bravado will amount to something more than $12.5 million worth of sales -- Movaz's GAAP-adjusted revenue figure for 2002. Furthermore, it would be heartening to see Movaz make more sizeable inroads with RAYstar, which hasn't been featured in any recent announcements. And where's that big RBOC win most startups need in order to declare themselves fully arrived? Khosravi says RAYstar is deployed worldwide and accounted for about 15 percent of sales last year. He says this year will see growth in RAYstars, as carriers who've bought Movaz OADMs seek to link network nodes with switches.

Khosravi also says a significant North American carrier contract win is imminent. Rumors have swirled that Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) has been testing Movaz gear, but Khosravi won't comment on this trial and says the upcoming deal doesn't involve Qwest.

We can only wait and see whether all the attention Movaz gathers signals fire or smoke. Meanwhile, the competition is mobilizing as well -- albeit a bit quieter. For instance Meriton Networks Inc., often billed as a potential close competitor to Movaz, completed new funding last year and claims progress in worldwide lab trials in Europe and North America (see Meriton Grabs Another $17M).

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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