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Optical/IP

Infinera: Trendy?

11:10 AM -- That optical systems specialist Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) has another European customer is not surprising. (See Retegal Deploys Infinera in Spain.)

What's notable, though, is that the new deal, with regional Spanish operator Retegal, might be part of (or the start of) what could be an interesting trend: Smallish operators deciding to build their own transport networks.

So reckons Infinera's director of solutions and technology Geoff Bennett, at least. "Dark fiber availability coupled with the availability of affordable and manageable transport equipment makes it possible for smaller players to build their own networks," states Bennett.

Retegal -- or Redes de Telecomunicación Galegas Retegal, S.A., to its friends -- would be a case in point here: It is deploying the vendor's ATN metro transport platform so it can manage bandwidth-hungry traffic such as high-definition TV more easily, and is set to deploy some of the vendor's core DTN products too. (See Infinera Launches Digital OTN.)

Until now it had deployed some legacy, local CWDM equipment (now being retired) for some legs of its network and leased a lot of capacity, but has now decided to build its own transport capabilities, choosing Infinera ahead of a few other shortlisted vendors (believed to be Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) and Transmode Systems AB ).

Bennett's claim that Infinera's technology is relatively easy to deploy and manage isn't so much up for debate these days, given the number of operators willing to testify to those attributes. So that part of the trend looks solid.

But will we see a procession of small service providers deploying their own optical equipment and taking control of their own transport requirements? That's more debatable, as it would depend on an accommodating regulatory regime, the availability of affordable dark fiber and available capital for such a move, let alone the market drivers for such a move. Retegal's expansion is at least partly backed by funds from the Galician regional government, which is a customer of the operator, so Retegal had the required capital (low double-digit millions of euros, it seems) at hand.

While development funds are certainly available from a number of sources for such network builds, vendors such as Infinera maybe shouldn't expect a rush of other small operators looking to follow in Retegal's footsteps.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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