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On Your Toes, Coriant!

Ray Le Maistre
6/13/2013
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Any prospects that European optical networking spinoff Coriant might enjoy a honeymoon period following its inception in early May have been well and truly dashed by encroachment on its core territory by key rival Infinera Corp.

Coriant was officially formed about five weeks ago when it closed its acquisition of Nokia Siemens Networks's optical equipment business. Since then, Infinera has been more than a minor irritant, muscling in on two significant long-haul transport network accounts. (See Euronews: Coriant Goes Solo.)

The first incursion was a month ago at Belgacom International Carrier Services (BICS), which decided to upgrade its pan-European network with Infinera's DTN-X platform as it starts to offer 100 Gigabit Ethernet services to its customers. As Light Reading's Craig Matsumoto noted at the time, that was "an early black eye" for Coriant. (See Infinera Snags One From NSN and BICS Picks Infinera DTN-X.)

Now Coriant has Infinera for company in the European network of TeliaSonera International Carrier (TIC), a growing force in the global data services sector that has landed some very impressive deals of late and which has now upgraded to 100Gbit/s on both sides of the Atlantic. (See Facebook Likes TeliaSonera IC and Euronews: TIC Makes It a 100G Double.)

Mattias Fridström, the CTO at TIC, has some interesting observations to make about the decision to bring Infinera into the European network. (See TeliaSonera IC Expands With Infinera.)

He told Light Reading that TIC had already deployed the vendor's gear in the U.S. and has been very happy with the results: Fridström stressed that in addition to the vendor's ability to provision 500Gbit/s long-haul superchannels, Infinera's field management and services support has been exemplary. (See TeliaSonera IC Picks Infinera and Infinera Slices & Dices Its 500G.)

So when network capacity demand continued to grow at a record pace across Europe -- "we have more orders now than ever before" -- TIC decided it had achieved a scale that demanded a new strategic approach. "We are big enough now that we wanted competition in our network -- we wanted to keep Coriant on its toes. We are happy with what Coriant is doing but it was time to introduce some competition."

So Fridström and his team decided to deploy Infinera's DTN-X system on a new pair of fibers along its critical Stockholm-to-Hamburg route, which "carries much of the traffic coming from Russia, Finland and the Nordic data centers." Coriant's gear is also deployed along this route but, noted the CTO, there is now so much potential capacity on the new fiber pair (multiple customers can be packed onto the 500Gbit/s superchannels) that TIC might even redeploy the Coriant equipment currently used on the Stockholm-to-Hamburg network and put it to work elsewhere.

The saving grace for Coriant in this account is that TIC is a happy customer that wants to push Coriant on to do bigger and better things: Expect to hear exactly what Coriant has planned when senior executives engage in a media blitz next week.

As Fridström noted, TIC is already using Coriant equipment for 100Gbit/s capacity upgrades and while it's likely that Infinera will command a growing slice of the upgrade action, the introduction of additional rivalry seems unlikely. (See TeliaSoneraIC Expands 100G With NSN.)

"Huawei and Ciena are chasing us but we're happy with our two suppliers," stated Fridström.

That's some comfort for Coriant, which despite having a large customer base and the experience that NSN's optical business built up over the years will find itself targeted by rivals that can smell blood and do their best to undermine a company that is trying to consolidate its position in the top tier of the transport systems vendor market.

What's certain is that the Coriant team will have to be on its toes if it is to deal with the momentum Infinera is building in Europe.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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