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Astral Point Slims DownAstral Point Slims Down

Metro networking startup Astral Point cuts headcount by 45 and drops its ON 2000 product line

April 23, 2001

3 Min Read
Astral Point Slims Down

Astral Point Communications Inc. announced today that it is laying off 45 people, about 20 percent of its staff, in order to conserve its venture funding during tight economic times. The company's headcount will drop to 205 from about 250 employees (see Astral Point Lays Off 20%).

The company now says it has enough cash to last 18 months.

In addition to laying off staff, Astral Point is also cutting costs by quietly scrapping its ON 2000 product line. The decision came down sometime in February when the company acknowledged that the box was targeted toward a market with eroding equipment prices and profit margins. "We decided as a company that it does not make sense for Astral Point to play in that environment," writes spokesman Kevin Whalen, in an email interview with Light Reading.

The ON 2000, originally announced in December 2000, was an access aggregation box for use in telecom hotels, multitenant buildings, colocation facilities, and customer facilities (see Astral Point Expands Product Portfolio). By shelving that box, Astral Point cedes the access space to Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) ONS 15327 product, Fujitsu Network Communications Inc.'s 150ADX box, and products from Ocular Networks Inc., Mayan Networks Inc., and Lucent Technologies Inc. (through its acquisition of Chromatis).

"We have focused our next major platform development efforts on a next-gen product that is targeted at the larger carriers," Astral Point's Whalen writes.

Where does that leave Astral Point? Now a single product company, Astral Point is resolved to sell its ON 5000 box, a multiservice provisioning platform that sits in service provider points of presence (POPs) and telecom central offices; it competes with products from Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK), ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS), Metro-Optix Inc., and Cisco, to name a few. That product has been shipping since the fall of 2000.

The company says it has five revenue generating customers for the ON 5000 but has only publicly spoken about three of them -- Time Warner Telecom Inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC), Lighthouse Communications, and Advanced TelCom Group Inc.. The company also claims to be involved in 12 field trials with carriers, including two incumbent local exchange carriers.

Astral Point says it works with a third party to obtain equipment financing for its carrier customers, but it says that the financing company assumes all risk during such transactions.

And, amid rumors that Time Warner Telecom had cancelled its Astral Point contract from last year, both companies assert that things are going as planned. "Everything's still on track with us," says Bob Meldrum, a spokesman for Time Warner Telecom. Meldrum says Time Warner Telecom is still putting the ON 5000 through lab evaluations and making sure the box works with its back-office systems and other network elements.

Raj Shanmugaraj, Bill Mitchell, Bruce Miller, and Steve Sherry founded Astral Point in September 1998. The company's raised $113 million to date, and its most recent financing round was announced in September 2000.

-- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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