Sycamore: Sick No More?

While the rest of the industry is talking about the metro, Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR) is making announcements about its ultra-long-haul product.

This morning the company announced that KPNQwest NV (Nasdaq/Amsterdam: KQIP) plans to use the SN 10000 in a section of the provider’s 20,000 kilometer European network (see KPNQwest Goes With Sycamore). It also announced several enhancements to the SN 10000 product.

No dollar amount was given with regard to the contract, but Sycamore executives say that the gear is already being installed in the KPNQwest network and will be recognized as revenue this quarter. The product is being used in KPN’s 4,500km Nordic ring and will carry roughly 100 terabits of capacity across six cities, including Stockholm and Helsinki. The ring will connect to KPNQwest’s European network, which spans 44 cities; it will also connect to 150 cities on Qwest Communications International Corp.’s (NYSE: Q) North American fiber ring.

In some respects, KPN appears to be following in the footsteps of another Sycamore customer, Utfors AB, which is also rolling out a Nordic network (see Gigabit Ethernet Goes Carrier Class). Utfors' CTO, Sten Nordell, recently told Light Reading that Sycamore's SN 10000 had helped Utfors offer large amounts of bandwidth and undercut rivals on the Stockholm-Helsinki route by eliminating the need for intermediate amplifiers.

Sycamore says there is no relationship between the Utfors and KPNQwest contracts.

The contract with KPN is an important win for Sycamore, which has been hit hard by the capital spending crunch. It has seen key customers like 360networks Inc. (Nasdaq: TSIX; Toronto: TSX.TO) fold (see 360networks Calls It Quits). And its contract with Williams Communications Group (NYSE: WCG), a staple in its revenue stream, is coming to an end. The company’s stock price has been trading at around $6 a share, a far cry from its highs a year ago, when it was around $165 a share. The company has made some headway with incumbent carriers like BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), but adding KPNQwest, a top-tier, well-funded European provider, is a key win.

“They desperately need contract wins right now,” says Alex Henderson, an analyst with Salomon Smith Barney. “And they needed a win of this caliber. It could go a long way in getting them some momentum in the long-haul space, especially in this environment when no one is buying long haul.”

Sycamore also announced several enhancements to its SN 10000 ultra-long-haul product to make it more palatable for service providers. The SN 10000 was announced back in September 2000 (see Sycamore Goes the Distance (At Last) ). Primarily, it competes with other ultra-long-haul products from Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), Fujitsu Ltd. (KLS: FUJI.KL), Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), and Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV). Analysts say they have been expecting these enhancements for the past few months.

So what’s different? Specifically, the upgrades aim to reduce carriers' operational costs. For one, its OC192/STM card has been made more dense. Previously, Sycamore's OC192 interface would take up two slots in a 32 slot chassis. But now, an OC192 interface only takes up one slot, allowing providers to pack in 32 interfaces into a 3.5 ft. chassis. And with two chassis per 7 ft. rack, that adds up to 640 Gbit/s per bay. This greatly reduces the product footprint, saving space and power consumption costs.

Sycamore also announced its super FEC (forward error correction) implementation, which adds data to the original traffic payload at the transmitter to enable the receiver to repair corrupted bytes. Essentially, this feature extends distance and wavelength capabilities by reducing the corruption level of the signal. Compared to other FEC implementations that only provide a 10 to 25 percent gain, Sycamore claims its version provides a 50 percent improvement in optical performance.

Sycamore has also added unlimited add/drop capabilities that allow wavelengths to be dropped at any time, anywhere on the network. This is different from other ultra-long-haul systems that require expensive regeneration at add/drop sites, says Mike Anderson, director of product management for transport products at Sycamore.

The final enhancement is an automated power balancing system that allows wavelengths to be turned up without a truck roll. This cuts wavelength provisioning time down from about 30 days to only 15 minutes.

The new features will be rolled out over the next two months, says Anderson.

- Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Movers and shakers from more than 100 companies – including Sycamore Networks – will be speaking at Opticon 2001, Light Reading’s annual conference, being held in San Jose, California, August 13-16. Check it out at Opticon2001.

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solver 12/4/2012 | 8:02:28 PM
re: Sycamore: Sick No More? I know the SN10000 brochure has been specifying 32 OC-192 interface cards per bay since early this year, which is no different than what is mentioned here. But how does this equate to 640 Gbps, unless you double-count the channels...

So does this mean that each of these cards supports 2 channels, with each channel being 1 wavelength going east-west plus 1 channel going west to east?
droid 12/4/2012 | 8:02:27 PM
re: Sycamore: Sick No More? Probably it is bi-directional counted....
Like, we have 640Gb/s!! 320Gb/s Receiving and 320Gb/s transmitting. Nortel also counted his channels in the early days of WDM..

solver 12/4/2012 | 8:02:26 PM
re: Sycamore: Sick No More? Yeah, I think you are right, each SN10k bay is 3 ft tall, which LR refers to as a chasis.
fiber_flip 12/4/2012 | 8:02:26 PM
re: Sycamore: Sick No More? The article says 32 OC-192 per chassis, but 640 Gb/s per bay. Maybe, there are two chassis per bay.
manoflalambda 12/4/2012 | 8:02:23 PM
re: Sycamore: Sick No More? Perhaps 2 duplex ports per card? 32 x 2 x 10 = 640 (640 in and 640 out... ).

rtfm 12/4/2012 | 8:02:22 PM
re: Sycamore: Sick No More? Just looking at the other press releases (off-site from LR), I think the 640 comes per rack, and you can get more than one chassis in a rack.

My own understanding only...

rtfm 12/4/2012 | 8:02:19 PM
re: Sycamore: Sick No More? There's an interesting question on the CORV stock board, which points out 2 possibilities:

1. Sycamore sold identical equipment along nearly identical routes to KPNQwest as Utfors
2. KPNQwest bought lit fibers from Utfors.

That discussion should rightly be posted here!

Marguerite Reardon 12/4/2012 | 8:02:13 PM
re: Sycamore: Sick No More? Sycamore says that the two contracts are separate and unrelated. I've updated the story to answer this point.
Marguerite Reardon 12/4/2012 | 8:02:13 PM
re: Sycamore: Sick No More? The story has been updated and this issue has been clarified. Sycamore says that two 32 slot chassis fit into one 7 ft. rack or bay, which adds up to 640 Gbot/s per rack.
trixie 12/4/2012 | 8:02:09 PM
re: Sycamore: Sick No More? Each card is a duplex OC-192 interface. A single bay solution holds one shelf of commons (amps, controllers, optics) and one shelf of transponder cards (32 to be exact) susequent bays would be only transponder shelves, offering 64 duplex ports per 7 ft bay
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