Qwest Tests Metro-Optix

Metro-Optix Inc. announced another customer win this week, it's fifth so far (see Network USA to Deploy Metro-Optix). The next-generation Sonet add/drop multiplexer maker is also in lab trials with Genuity Inc. (Nasdaq: GENU), WorldCom Inc. (Nasdaq: WCOM), and Qwest Communications International Corp. (NYSE: Q), according to visitors to its booth at NFOEC.

Metro-Optix's newest customer is a Lafayette, Louisiana-based competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) called Network USA. The contract is worth $15 million, according to Dana Hartgraves, Metro-Optix's vice president of marketing. Network USA doesn't have a Website and didn't return phone calls for this article [ed.note: because it doesn't have a phone?].

The company's other customers are similarly obscure. They include 1stel Inc., a Texas-based CLEC; WirelessLand Technologies Inc., a service provider in Mississippi; and OutReach Communications LLC, a Missouri-based CLEC (see Metro-Optix Announces Customers and Metro-Optix Platform Trials). The WirelessLand and 1stel contracts are tiered agreements that address up to $25 million and $10 million worth of business, respectively, says Robert Sterett, a regional director at Metro-Optix.

International FiberCom (Nasdaq: IFCI), based in Phoenix, also has a reseller agreement with Metro-Optix worth about $5 million.

None of the deals announced to date are with big ILECs or RBOCs, which is becoming the survival watermark for young equipment companies. The company is getting attention from such firms, but it hasn't landed a deal just yet.

In April, Light Reading reported that Genuity and Worldcom were seen at Metro-Optix, evaluating its gear in the vendor's labs. The article quoted a Metro-Optix employee as saying that the firm would be in trials with a "top-tier IXC" soon (see Metro-Optix Lures WorldCom, Genuity).

Visitors to Metro-Optix's booth at NFOEC have told Light Reading that the IXC in question was Qwest and that it, Genuity, and WorldCom now are evaluating Metro-Optix's gear in their own labs.

Product trials, of course, are nothing more than one small step in a lengthy sales process with carriers. But being in the labs is "better than being locked outside and looking in," said one of Metro-Optix's booth staff. The company announced its product in February and competes with similar products from Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) -- companies that are larger and have established relationships with the big phone companies.

- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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