iamba Networks launches new product, searches for potential partners

20 June 2003 Ra'anana, Israel Lightwave -- The folks at iamba Networks have been very busy lately. iamba is preparing to launch the XL400, the newest member of its iAxelent multi-service optical access family for Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) applications. The company is also actively pursuing potential partnership opportunities in preparation for the recently released FTTP Request for Proposal (RFP) from SBC, Verizon, and BellSouth.

Jun 20th, 2003

20 June 2003 Ra'anana, Israel Lightwave -- The folks at iamba Networks have been very busy lately. iamba is preparing to launch the XL400, the newest member of its iAxelent multi-service optical access family for Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) applications. The company is also actively pursuing potential partnership opportunities in preparation for the recently released FTTP Request for Proposal (RFP) from SBC, Verizon, and BellSouth.

The XL400 is a mini optical line terminal (OLT) designed for low-density deployments. Its key advantage is its cost-effectiveness when paired with the company's optical network terminals (ONTs), says Guy Benhaim, iamba Networks' chief executive officer. Deploying the XL400 in the central office (CO) instead of a full-scale concentrator, for example, can result in a ten-fold improvement on the cost structure.

Despite its relatively low price point, the XL400 is a true multi-service unit, providing Ethernet, TDM, and POTS services. It connects to all relevant networks, including Ethernet, IP, SONET, and ATM.

That said, Benhaim admits that the XL400 is "more of a niche product" when compared with the company's previously released XL1000 Multi-Service Concentrator. "The XL1000 is a high-capacity product that better suits large-scale deployments," he explains. "In that case, we are also expecting those deployments to be addressed by the large equipment vendors, and we are working to cooperate with these players to introduce the best solution."

Like many vendors in the FTTP space, iamba is actively pursuing partnership opportunities. "Our strategy, which I think is a sane one, is to partner to address the larger carriers and not try to be a Lucent or a Nortel," says Benhaim. "We want to find the right partners and introduce a good technology and aggressive price points."

The folks at iamba hope to work with a potential partner to develop a complete solution for the RBOCs' RFP, which Benhaim expects will create some measure of stability in the market and help quiet the debate between ATM passive optical networking (APON), Ethernet PON (EPON), and Gigabit PON (GPON).

iamba is banking on ATM-based BPON technology, though it can increase the capabilities of its system to include both EPON and GPON. If the RBOCs were to back GPON, Benhaim could see that technology taking off. However, GPON would have to match the cost of BPON and provide a performance level at least four times better than BPON to justify its introduction into the network.

While it remains to be seen whether the RBOCs are really serious about deploying FTTP in the near term, Benhaim believes that PON technology is already well on its way to clearing one potential hurdle to its deployment: cost. "If you recall from the world of ADSL, the figure was $300 end-to-end for each subscriber. Stable PON implementations are reaching this number in large volumes," he says, noting that ADSL provides simple Internet access. PON technology, by contrast, "delivers Internet, data and VPN services, voice, and video. You get the 'triple play' at a cost level--in massive numbers--very close to the $300 that was target for ADSL."

For now, iamba Networks continues to search for potential partners while it further develops its iAxelent family. In addition to the XL400 and the XL1000, the company also offers the XL200B, a business ONT that delivers data, TDM, and POTS services to business subscribers. According to Benhaim, work is currently underway on the XL200R, a residential version that will provide data, voice, and video services. The company is partnering with another vendor to develop the residential unit, though it has yet to announce the identity of that partner or the product release date.

--M. Fuller

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