Service providers use caution in optical metro/access market

The potential market for optical metro/ access equipment is dominated by established service providers that will continue to be cautious in their deployment of new platforms, asserts a new report from Communications Industry Researchers Inc. (CIR-Charlottesville, VA), "Optical Access in the Public Network." In fact, as much as 70% of the sales of optical metro/access equipment may come from traditional carriers that are committed to SONET and favor conservative management.

Established providers tend to be cautious when adopting new solutions due to the huge startup costs associated with new technology approaches and the fear that they may be stuck with a platform that might not meet end-user demands over the next few years. In addition, the low rate of obsolescence in the public telecommunications space allows little room for new products. Quality-of-service issues can also be an obstacle to the deployment of new technologies.

CIR's research reveals that those companies that acknowledge the long lead times and ongoing commitment to SONET legacy networks will survive, while those that don't appreciate the dynamics of the optical metro/access market will likely fade from view. The report cites the strategic missteps of Atmosphere Net woworks, which was bought by Ditech at a very low cost, as an example of what may happen to industry executives and investors who make hasty decisions.

Despite these fears, CIR expects the optical metro/access market to grow from over $1.2 billion in 2000 to $3.5 billion by 2004, driven by the shift to Internet Protocol and the increasing willingness of service providers to use DWDM.

CIR's report provides a five-year forecast of optical metro/access equipment shipments in terms of volume and value and examines 23 leading vendors and their product/market strategies. Market leaders such as Ciena, Cisco, and Nortel are included in the study, as well as newer high-potential vendors, including Cyras, Kestrel, Sycamore, and ONI Systems. The report also profiles 20 leading service providers, from startup CLECs to established carriers. For a detailed table of contents, see the company's Website at www.cir-inc.com or call (617) 923-7611.

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