Nayna Jumps Into PON
Often it's desperation that forces a startup to restartup so abruptly, but who can blame Nayna for trying? Even the most promising startups in all-optical switching have shut down, with the roster of the dead including Network Photonics, OMM, and Onix Microsystems (see Onix: Another MEMS Casualty).
Nayna isn't the only member of this club to retool. Integrated Micromachines Inc. (IMI) -- formerly IMMI -- shifted into the probe-card business for semiconductor testing. But this change was more natural; it's the business IMMI had been chasing when the all-optical mania hit (see IMMI Switches Strategy).
In Nayna's case, executives were ready to throw in the towel, says Jim Connor, vice president of marketing. CEO Naveen Bisht was telling the board the market was kaput and even offered to give back the remaining funding. But, according to Connor, the board's response was, "What else can you do?"
Given a second chance, Bisht plugged into the next hot market: broadband access.
Nayna sells equipment for Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) PONs, but its flagship line is the ExpressStream series announced this week. That product has some "relatively modest" customers signed up in Korea and Japan, but Nayna hasn't cracked the bigger deployments yet, Connor says. With volume shipments expected late in the year, Nayna doesn't think it's getting to market too late, even in Asia.
"I don't think the ground has solidified that much yet," Connor says. "Carriers still tend to split [the market] between the top two or three vendors."
To make up for lost time, Nayna's going straight for the IEEE 802.3ah standard, which is expected to be ratified this summer. EPONs as dictated by that standard have become particularly hot in Asia, where they've been the basis of some significant RFPs (see NTT Calls for Ethernet PON). Of course, plenty of other vendors, including Alloptic Inc. and Salira Optical Network Systems Inc., are already in the Asian EPON game.
ExpressStream goes beyond PONs to include point-to-point Ethernet support. This kind of non-PON link is included in the 802.3ah standard, which covers multiple types of Ethernet access.
The point-to-point option is intended to upgrade customers, particularly businesses, to higher bandwidth by swapping the PON link for a normal Gigabit Ethernet link. The ExpressStream box stays at the customer premises, but now it's connected to an Ethernet switch rather than a PON system. "The whole point [of supporting point-to-point is to avoid a truck roll to upgrade the customer," says Dror Sal'ee, vice president of marketing for EPON chip vendor Passavé Technologies Inc.
The other way to upgrade a PON customer would be by putting WDM onto the PON links, something companies in Korea are pursuing. This approach adds the cost of WDM lasers, however, which is why companies including Nayna and Passavé think point-to-point support is a better option.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading