White Rock Networks suspends operations

AUGUST 31, 2006 By Stephen Hardy -- The optical communications industry may be picking up, but the acceleration apparently isn't quick enough for White Rock Networks. The company, which makes multi-service optical access, transport, and aggregation products for Ethernet and TDM service delivery, has suspended operations while it searches for a buyer.

AUGUST 31, 2006 By Stephen Hardy -- The optical communications industry may be picking up, but the acceleration apparently isn't quick enough for White Rock Networks (search for White Rock Networks). The company, which makes multi-service optical access, transport, and aggregation products for Ethernet and TDM service delivery, has suspended operations while it searches for a buyer.

The company announced the action in an email. A source within the company confirmed the contents of the email, but declined to be quoted regarding the reasons for the action or its timing.

The email, entitled "White Rock Networks Suspends Most Operations," says the company's board of directors has decided to furlough "all but a skeleton staff of its U.S. employee team" while it sees if it can find a buyer. "If not, White Rock will proceed to sell its key assets and wind the company down permanently," the email states.

"It gives me and our team no pleasure whatsoever to reach this juncture after nearly seven years of working hard to establish White Rock as one of the long term successful participants in the metro optical systems market place," the email quoted Lonnie Martin, founder and CEO of White Rock, as saying. "Fundamentally, the telecom depression, and all of its residue, took too big and too long a toll on younger entrants like us, and at the end of the day we could not look our investors in the eye a sixth time and convince them that millions more in equity would make our future dramatically better."

The company's products included the VLX2020 Optical Transport System, which combines a SONET ADM, a mini digital crossconnect system, and an edge Ethernet switch in a single platform; the OC-48-based VLX2006 Multi-service Access Platform; the VLX840 T1/E1 Multiplexer; the VLX300 and VLX400 Service Edge Concentrators; the VLX1020 CWDM/DWDM platform (based on technology provided by BTI Photonic Systems Inc. -- search for BTI Photonic Systems); and a suite of element management products. The company had more than 130 customers for its products, with independent telcos and CLECs a relative strength. Sales to Broadview Networks, Iowa Network Services, Tel West Network Services, Citynet, and Link America were announced this year.

The company had OEM relationships with Tellabs, Marconi Federal, and Polaris Networks. White Rock had raised $170 million from such firms as Oak Investment Partners, Mayfield Fund, 3i Technology Partners, Meritech Capital Partners, Fremont Group, Investor Growth Capital, Hook Partners, Gulf International Bank, Pacesetter Capital, and Tellabs.

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