Industry Update

The Resilient Packet Ring Alliance (San Jose, CA), an industry advocacy group promoting resilient-packet-ring (RPR) technology and its standardization by the New York City-based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), announced that the IEEE 802.17 RPR working group has approved the release of version 2.0 of the draft RPR standard for working-group ballot, meeting a major milestone in the standards process. With this working-group ballot, members will approve or disapprove the draft in its current form. Disapproving voters indicate specific areas of improvement needed in the draft and in so doing indicate their willingness to approve the draft if these areas are addressed satisfactorily. The working-group ballot requires 75% approval of the voting members before the next stage: a sponsor ballot whereby a broad community of users and vendors of the technology will review the draft. The sponsor ballot is expected in late spring, with final approval envisioned later this year. In addition, Infineon Technologies (Munich) has upgraded its membership in the RPR Alliance, joining Cisco Systems, Corrigent Systems, Lantern Communications, Mindspeed Technologies, and Nortel Networks as principal members.

360networks, a Toronto-based provider of wholesale and data telecommunications services, will acquire Group Telecom (Vancouver, British Columbia), Canada's largest independent, facilities-based telecom provider. Terms of the cash acquisition were not disclosed but will be included in Group Telecom's plan of reorganization. 360networks recently completed lighting its intercity fiber networks in North America, connecting 48 major cities in the United States and Canada. Group Telecom offers a full suite of voice and data telecom services across 17 metro fiber networks in nine Canadian provinces. The two companies reached agreement following a court-authorized, seven-day exclusive negotiating period under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). Group Telecom first obtained CCAA Court protection in June 2001 to restructure its business operations and capital structure. Since then, Group Telecom has been granted additional extensions of its CCAA protection, most recently until last month. The transaction is subject to court approval and regulatory approval. It is anticipated that the transaction will close on or before Feb. 15. WL Ross & Co. supported 360networks in the transaction by providing a backstop for the cash required to complete the acquisition.

Fiber-to-the-home vendor Optical Solutions (Minneapolis) reported that its flagship product, FiberPath 400, has been accepted by the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) as the first passive-optical-networking-based equipment system to be included on RUS's official list of materials. A technical standards committee at RUS determines acceptance of products for the list of materials. Only products that have proven reliability, field installation, and service-provider testimonials qualify.

Test equipment manufacturer Agilent Technologies (Palo Alto, CA) and the Photonics Center at Boston University (Boston) will collaborate to develop a state-of-the-art laboratory. Expected to open next month, the laboratory will enable early-stage optics companies to research and create new technologies. As part of a series of planned expansions of laboratories, the Photonics Center made a major investment in Agilent test equipment for this new optical test laboratory, including the latest suite of Agilent's 10-GHz optical test equipment. The relationship between Agilent and the Photonics Center began five years ago when the facility first opened.

FiberNet Telecom Group (New York City), a provider of metropolitan optical connectivity, announced an agreement with BT North America, a subsidiary of British Telecommunications, to provide collocation services in New York City. FiberNet operates carrier hotels and has lit multiple strands of fiber on a redundant and diversely routed SONET ring and IP architecture throughout NYC. The company offers local-loop delivery and connectivity in carrier hubs and Class A commercial buildings at speeds up to OC-192 (10-Gbit/sec) SONET and Gigabit Ethernet.

The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) has established a formal cooperative relationship with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to facilitate the implementation of metro Ethernet standards. The announcement was made at the MEF's quarterly all-member meeting in Seattle in November. Formed to promote the adoption of optical Ethernet, the MEF consists of 63 member companies representing a range of Ethernet service providers, incumbent local-exchange carriers, network equipment vendors, and other networking companies. At the November meeting, the MEF technical committee introduced a mid-year timeline for the completion of Ethernet-service specifications. In addition, meeting participants reached consensus and moved 16 technical documents to the MEF ballot or straw ballot phase of consideration in four areas: services, protocol and transport, management, and architecture.

Multiservice switching vendor WaveSmith Networks (Acton, MA) closed a $30-million third round of financing, bringing the company's total amount raised to $84.5 million. New investors in the round include Argonaut Private Equity and Ciena (Linthicum, MD). First and second round investors, Atlas Venture, Bessemer Venture Partners, Commonwealth Capital, and Fidelity Ventures, also participated in this latest round. Ciena and WaveSmith Networks have also entered into a worldwide reseller agreement that allows Ciena to market, sell, and support WaveSmith's distributed node multiservice switch product family into tier one service-provider accounts. Ciena will provide 24/7 support for WaveSmith's products via its network of technical assistance centers. The partnership gives WaveSmith a worldwide sales presence.

LightPointe (San Diego), a manufacturer and designer of carrier class transmission equipment using free-space optics (FSO) technology, reported that the United States Patent & Trademark Office has granted the company a new patent related to its 2001 patent on all-optical FSO networking and products. LightPointe's patented all-optical FSO network design uses erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs) to "optically couple" free-space links and fiber systems. The relatively inexpensive EDFAs produce all-optical broadband amplification, which avoids the necessity for electrical-optical conversion. The EDFA amplification band is compatible with the fundamental wavelength for fiber-optic cable in telecommunications long-haul and metro-area networks. The LightPointe patent also includes combining EDFA technology and FSO in an all-optical network, allowing for the integration of FSO equipment in WDM-based networks. The new patent, which is a "continuation" of the earlier one, includes 10 independent claims on fundamental aspects of all-optical FSO products and networks. Both patents are the result of research by Dr. Heinz A. Willebrand, the company's founder and chief technology officer.

London-based COLT Telecom Group, a European provider of business communications services, and free-space optics company AirFiber (San Diego), collaborated in the provisioning of network support services for the MTV Europe Music Awards 2002, which was broadcast to about 170 million people across Europe Nov. 14. MTV requires reliable high-bandwidth communications links between the event's location and head offices. The links are used to satisfy the data communications needs associated with organizing a production of this magnitude and for distributing production-quality video between countries in real time.

Lumentis AB (Stockholm), announced a contract to build the 3G network transport using its SDH technology for the Hi3G (Stockholm) mobile network in Sweden's Malmo region. Lumentis has earlier successfully delivered and installed similar technology for Hi3G's 3G network in the Stockholm area. Lumentis is providing SDH technology that is optimized for 2G and 3G networks. The equipment will also provide Hi3G with an upgrade path for higher capacity as well as the ability to handle multiservice transport. Lumentis is also providing an element management system that fulfills functionality requirements and applicable standards for mobile networks. In another development, Lumentis announced a second customer in the high-end enterprise market: OM, the Swedish Stock Exchange. Lumentis's optical metro platform has been chosen for test and validation in OM's Swedish and international optical networks. This announcement is significant not only because Lumentis is venturing into a new market, but also because Lumentis has the opportunity to expand internationally. Lumentis's solution is already in traffic for approval in some of the stock exchanges for which OM is responsible.

Fiber-optic-transceiver supplier Optillion (Stockholm) concluded its Series C financing round, raising an additional $15 million. Led by Crescendo Ventures, Cisco Systems, ITACT, and Investor AB via Investor Growth Capital, its venture capital company, the latest round brings the total venture financing raised by Optillion to $70 million over the past two years. All four investors participated in Series B financing, and ITACT, a Swedish venture capital firm, provided Optillion's seed funding. The Series C investment will be used to ramp production of Optillion's 10-Gbit/sec transceiver products and support product development, marketing, and sales. In conjunction with the new funding and in line with current market conditions, Optillion will make some adjustments to its organization, including a reduction in workforce.

Optical-networking equipment maker ADVA Optical Networking (Martinsried/Munich, Germany) reported that incumbent European carrier Telecom Italia has deployed its Fiber Service Platform (FSP) 3000 product to build up metro-network infrastructure in selected Italian cities. Sold to Telecom Italia by Siemens IC Networks, ADVA's FSP 3000 is marketed with the Siemens Waveline MetroNet label. Telecom Italia has deployed the hardware and Siemens's Telecommunication Network Management System software in an eight-node ring network in Rome. The carrier is deploying additional rings in selected Italian cities. These metro-ring networks will also use ADVA's DWDM technology to transport new Gigabit Ethernet services and address fiber relief concerns.

Component manufacturer Oplink Communications (San Jose, CA), whose primary manufacturing facility is located in Zhuhai, China, plans to expand its optical manufacturing services. To meet the market demand for higher levels of integrated optical manufacturing, Oplink is increasing its software and electronic engineering capabilities, incorporating these functionalities into its development and manufacturing processes within its San Jose, CA, and Zhuhai facilities. In addition, the company said it is moving forward with major restructuring initiatives, including the shift of its engineering, R&D, and manufacturing competencies to its offshore facilities in China and a 50% reduction in its worldwide workforce. The company expects to complete its initial restructuring efforts by the first half of fiscal year 2003.

Opto Speed (Ruschlikon, Switzerland), a developer and manufacturer of optoelectronic modules for communications, test and measurement, medical, and defense markets, announced a distribution agreement with Broadtechs Electronics, a Shanghai-based distributor of electronic and optoelectronic components and subassemblies for the major telecommunications equipment and device manufacturers, consumer electronics device manufacturers, and IT appliance manufacturers. Broadtechs will distribute Opto Speed's family of high-speed lasers, photodetectors, monolithically integrated PIN/TIA/post-amplifier optical front-ends, semiconductor optical amplifiers, and superluminescent LEDs regionally through its sales and applications support organization.

OMM, a San Diego-based supplier of the micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) in all-optical switching modules, reported that ZTE of Shenzhen, China, has incorporated OMM's products into the optical-crossconnect (OXC) functionality of its UNITRANS metro telecommunications system. Using OMM's MEMS-based switching modules, ZTE has developed and commercialized an all-optical crossconnect as part of the UNITRANS ZXMP system for dynamic wavelength management in metro networks. The transparency provided by the OXC ensures switching of multiple data rates in DWDM optical networks.

Switching-subsystem vendor Lynx Photonic Networks (Calabasas, CA) is entering the China market and will market its products through distributor Luster Lightwave. Evaluations of the company's silica-on-silicon, solid-state photonic switches are already scheduled with Chinese telecommunications systems vendors, according to the company.

Artel Video Systems (Marlboro, MA), a provider of video transport solutions to the cable television, satellite, and telecommunications industries, signed on Harbin Dongyan Electronics as a premier channel partner for the Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces in China. Harbin Dongyan will be responsible for the sales and service of Artel's entire suite of video transport products in these provinces. This agreement includes single-channel and multichannel dark-fiber products as well as the Cross Stream line for transmission of high-quality MPEG-2 video over packet-based networks.

Specialty optical-fiber manufacturer Verrillon (North Grafton, MA) acquired ADC's (Eden Prairie, MN) passive photonic-components business unit in Canberra, Australia. ADC transferred to Verrillon its development, production, and testing capabilities for tap couplers, splitters, combiners, WDMs, and fiber Bragg gratings. The two companies also entered into a supply agreement. Verrillon's facility in North Grafton will continue to function as corporate headquarters and the company's specialty optical-fiber operations center. Component development and manufacturing will remain in Australia with the existing staff and management.

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