Cost-saving new technology on show, but attendees scarce as cut-backs bite

News: SuperComm 2002

June's SuperComm 2002 show in Atlanta attracted 825 exhibiting companies (down slightly from 853 in 2001). Nearly 200 of these were new exhibitors.

But, reflecting industry cut-backs, attendance was about 30% down on 2001's 52,822 to about 37,000.

"While there may be less booth traffic than last year, there are as many - and sometimes more - decision-makers," said SuperComm general manager Jack Chalden. "Companies are saving money by sending only key executives."

But one exhibitor said that "many booth visitors are component vendors wanting to sell to equipment manufacturers", while others commented on the amount of job-hunting going on.

Much new technology was in evidence, but the emphasis was on reducing not just capital expenditure but also operating expenditure, and not performance but evolution: adding more efficient revenue-generating capabilities for existing infrastructure, e.g multi-rate, multi-protocol services using Ethernet-over-SONET/SDH, MPLS-enabled Ethernet and SONET/SDH interfaces.

Many suppliers are forming alliances to persuade investors and customers of both the viability of the company and the interoperability of their products.

Sycamore Networks launched an interoperability program to validate combination of Ethernet and optical switching for deliver of Gigabit Ethernet services with carrier-class reliability over existing SONET/SDH networks. Participants include Atrica, Extreme Networks, Riverstone Networks, Appian Communications, and Unisphere Networks.

"It is important for vendors with complementary solutions to work together to provide carriers with reliable, interoperable solutions, from the core of their optical backbone network, through the edge of the IP network, all the way to the customer premises," said Atrica's Michael Fox. Service providers can leverage the security and reliability of installed SONET/SDH infrastructure and exploit Ethernet to create new data services.

Appian launched its OSAP 1600, optimised for carriers to extend its multi-service Ethernet-over-SDH/SONET and TDM services to a larger set of metro area customers in lower-density building and office-park locations and therefore "particularly suited to the European markets," claims vp EMEA, Mark Weeks. To extended the use of Ethernet, carrier-class services supported include secure Ethernet Private Lines as well as scalable Ethernet access to Internet, frame relay and ATM services.

However, almost of greater concern, many suppliers - particularly start-ups - were keen to detail how much cash they have in the bank, their cash burn rate, and how long their funds will last...

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