Analyst: AlcaLu's 100G Game-Changer

Alcatel-Lucent's 100G launch is a significant development that will give it an advantage, reckons Heavy Reading analyst

June 9, 2010

3 Min Read
Analyst: AlcaLu's 100G Game-Changer

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s announcement that it has a commercial 100-Gbit/s optical product ready to ship today has moved the optical equipment market on in a number of ways, and will further squeeze the timeframe in which 40-Gbit/s systems will be deployed, according to Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin. (See AlcaLu Goes Commercial With 100G and 40G: Time for the Third-Party Candidate to Bow Out?)

"That this is a commercial release, and not just talk about a product roadmap, is quite a surprise. Alcatel-Lucent must have stepped up its development cycle, and that's significant," says the analyst.

"It also means there are now two choices for carriers. Nortel [now part of Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN)] has so far been able to say it's the only company with commercial 100 Gbit/s, and of course it has a customer in Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). Now it has Alcatel-Lucent for company." (See Ciena/Nortel Product Plans Revealed and Nortel Launches 100G Solution.)

The other significant thing about the launch, says Perrin, is that AlcaLu is "doing this with a single carrier, a single laser, whereas Nortel's gear has two sub carriers [two lasers] that generate two wavelengths, but which looks like one 100-Gbit/s wavelength.

"Now, the Nortel system still meets the requirements of fitting into the 50GHz spectrum, and there's no indication at all that this doesn't perform as well as a single carrier system. But major carriers, such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon, have been referring to single carrier in terms of trials, and they'll likely prefer to go down that route," the analyst continues.

"This gives Alcatel-Lucent something of an advantage just now in the market. This is going to put pressure on Ciena to deliver a single-carrier version of its 100G offering."

So who else might join Ciena and AlcaLu soon? Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , says Perrin, "has previously been quite slow, but recently it has been talking about 2011 availability, which is an accelerated timeframe. That gives Alcatel-Lucent a time advantage, but I expect today's news will probably speed Huawei up even more."

The analyst also expects to see developments from NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701), which has been talking about 100G for some time, and Nokia Networks , as well as Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN). (See Infinera Ditches 40G, Talks 100G.)

And then there's Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). (See Cisco Renews Optical Focus With CoreOptics.)

The industry consensus seems to be that meaningful deployments and product revenues will begin in late 2011 and early 2012 -– Ciena reiterated that timeframe again today during its earnings conference call –- but the sales cycles are long for such heavy-duty infrastructure platforms, so AlcaLu might well be hitting the optical high street at just the right time. (See Ciena's Q2 Let Down by MEN.)

Perrin believes AlcaLu's timing "is good. At the recent Light Reading Packet Optical conference in New York, 100 Gbit/s was the big, and sometimes the only, talking point." (See LR Touts POTE Success, Scenes From Packet-Optical Evolution, Part II, Scenes From Packet-Optical Evolution, Part I, Google: 100 Gbit/s? How 'Bout 8 TBs Per Second?, Packet-Optical Evolves, and Verizon: Give Us More Flexible ROADMs for 100G.)

Perrin adds: "There's a real consensus in the industry that it's important to get commercial, Coherent 100G products to the market quickly."

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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