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OFC Reporter's Notebook I

March 24, 2009

Posted by Stephen Hardy

With all due modesty, the OSA/Lightwave Executive Forum was the place to be on the first day of OFC/NFOEC week. In addition to Verizon's pitch for a long-haul packet optical transport platform, the day featured several interesting tidbits:

  • What's the killer app? Keynoter Surya Panditi, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Access and Transport Technology Group, touted video. However, Steve Carlton, VP of planning and product management at Fujitsu Network Communications, suggested that applications such as medical imaging, which require terabits of capacity at a time, will have an even greater impact. But closer to home, Joseph Huggins, director, access and transport technology management at Qwest, said not to forget about online gaming.
  • Kou Miyake, director, NTT Service Integration Laboratories, revealed that it will take 20 million subscribers for NTT to make money with its FTTH services. The company hopes to reach that figure by the end of fiscal 2010.
  • Vik Saxena, senior director, network architecture, office of the CTO at Comcast Cable, said his company would deploy 100GbE technology today if it were available, driven more by operational efficiencies than pure bandwidth demand. However, Verizon's Elby said he expects that it will take two or three generations of 100G technology development before the technology meets the necessary price points for wide acceptance.
  • Despite a darker economic environment than at this time in 2008, the Component Vendors panelists weren't nearly as cranky as they were last year. A wag in the audience suggested that's because they were in shock. However, I think that last year, component execs felt that they hadn't derived the rewards they thought were due them from a rebounded market. In the current environment, depressed margins and company valuations make more sense.
  • Along these lines, Source Photonics chief Near Margalit suggested that a significant percentage of optical components vendors should get used to the idea that their margins will never exceed 25%.
  • The panelists on our M&A; panel don't expect a big play along the lines of the Finisar/Optium merger this year. With credit tight, cash will be precious -- and won't be spent without an extremely good reason. That said, private companies' expected valuations appear to be going down to increasingly tempting levels. But no one is interested in buying market share. Acquisitions must increase product breadth or meet some other strategic objective.

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Posted by Stephen Hardy

A year after debuting its "OTN in a module" concept at OFC/NFOEC 2008, Menara Networks plans to use this year's event to highlight its electronic dispersion compensation (EDC) technology, company founder, president, and CEO Siraj Nour ElAhmadi told me earlier this week.

ElAhmadi says that the company has garnered six design wins for its upcoming XFP device, which he expects will reach general availability in either the second or third quarter of this year. Like Menara Network's other 10G modules, the XFPs leverage the company's ASIC technology to incorporate the electronic functions required to support OTN capabilities within the transceiver, rather than on the board.

Menara Networks produces devices for both long-haul and short-reach applications. The long-haul market was the first target; the company successfully completed a 1300-km trial in Sweden, ElAhmadi says. However, the company also sees interest in its technology for intra-CO applications, which are normally dark spots for OTN-based network management. He sees a role for Menara Networks' technology for OTN-based service demarcation as well.

Both switch/router vendors and telecom equipment developers are working with the Menara Networks' modules, ElAhmadi reveals. The company also has seen interest from service providers, including cable companies, he adds.

In addition to fully implementing its EDC technology, Menara Networks also has full C-Band tunability on its development roadmap. ElAhmadi hopes to have both capabilities available sometime next year.

But perhaps the company's most noteworthy achievement was landing third-round funding last November. ElAhmadi terms the pursuit "extremely difficult -- we were lucky." He says this round should take the company through break even or cash positive.

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The Lightwave editorial staff uses The Lightwave Blog to share their thoughts on optical communications and whatever else might be the current topic of conversation from cubicle to cubicle. Feel free to add your own opinions.

Stephen Hardy is editorial director and associate publisher of Lightwave, which makes him responsible for the editorial aspects of the Lightwave franchise. A technology journalist since 1982, he once had his job duties described as "gets paid to tick off advertisers ".

Meghan Fuller is senior editor of Lightwave. She has degrees from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, and the University of Delaware and is a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation.