Supercomm Snippets

CHICAGO – Supercomm 2004 – Other than 900 Triple Play demos and 90 new VOIP services, what else was happening at Supercomm? Well, the usual scuttlebutt in the hallways, booths, bars, and hotel suites, of course.

Supercomm's move north to Chicago has gotten a positive response, based on our own little informal survey. Maybe it’s that Atlanta brings back memories of the bubble’s collapse. Maybe it’s that Atlanta’s too hot, or that the Braves play there. Or maybe it’s just that Chicago is “our kind of town.” It's just plain better, say most people.

Is it bigger? According to Supercomm officials, the numbers are up from 2003. They report 675 exhibitors (up 25 percent from last year), and attendance is supposed to hit 30,000 (up about 20 percent from last year). It certainly feels a little bigger than 2003, though this was certainly no bubble-era 1999-feeling show.

Here’s a rundown of some Supercomm snippets, as evacuated from our reporters' notebooks:

  • Little known fact: JDS Uniphase Corp. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) manufactures the flashy, rainbow-spectrum optical thin films used to coat the "20" in new $20 bills, for the purposes of anti-counterfeiting, points out David Gudmundson, VP of Corporate Development.

    Government money -- now that's a pretty big market. And the way our government prints money, it's getting bigger all the time! Who needs telecom?

    Gudmundson, by the way, says that JDSU is seeing a modest recovery across all its product lines. He also says that JDSU plans to pursue a "patient, disciplined approach to fortification and horizontal expansion." We think that's a fancy way of saying they'll buy more companies.

  • Ran into Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR) founders Dan Smith and Desh Deshpande in the hallway at Supercomm. They look to be still attached at the hip. Does Sycamore have any big news, we asked? Is it about to bust a big move with that $1 billion in cash in the bank?

    ”Yes,” said Smith. “Unlike Ciena, we’re actually doing something.”

    Okay! We checked the wires. We found an announcement about interoperability (see Sycamore Demos Interoperability). Modestly interesting, but not exactly the Next Big Thing.

  • Bert Whyte, CEO of Network Equipment Technologies Inc. (net.com) (NYSE: NWK), on SBC Communications Inc.'s (NYSE: SBC) public proclamation that it would spend $4 billion to $6 billion on new fiber deployments (see SBC's $6 Billion Banquet): “All this stuff about telcos and MSOs and FTTP – it’s absolute rubbish! The issue is creating value in the network. There are lots of ways to get there. But all these access things are just tactical issues.”

    So where's net.com's value, you ask? Net.com was demonstrating some new quality-of-service capabilities, called QServ, in its Scream Broadband Remote Access Server (B-RAS) platform (see Net.com Gets QServ on Scream). The idea is to enable service providers to deliver various levels of service in DSL, and integrate that with their ATM-based infrastructures. They've got to move beyond "Plain Old DSL," says Steve Shaw, director of industry relations with net.com.

  • Speaking of B-RAS, PacketFront AB, the Swedish triple-play access company, is bringing its IP DSLAM product to North America, and it says its goal is to eliminate the B-RAS (see PacketFront Intros IP DSLAM).

    PacketFront has an IP architecture and says its big competitive edge is a management platform called “BECS” that uses DHCP and QOS software to authenticate, bill, and manage users with different levels of service, obviating the need for PPP or tunneling protocols.

    "With us, the service providers can do away with the B-RAS: That’s our differentiation,” says Martin Thunman, PacketFront’s CEO.

    Also, attention Boston job-seekers: PacketFront has opened an office in the Boston area, and it plans plan to hire five to 10 folks there in the next year, according to Thunman.

  • Number of stands purveying Starbucks coffee seen at the McCormick Convention Center: at least five. Average cost of a cup of coffee: $2.50.

  • Infamous analyst citing: Ran into Jack Grubman in the Grand Concourse between the two halves of the Supercomm exhibit floor. He said that he's started a consulting practice for equipment companies selling to telecom carriers (see Grubman Returns). "I'm not talking about anything financial," he said, sounding tired.

Here's some more product announcements from Supercomm we've grouped together in areas of interest:

— The Staff, Light Reading

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