Showdown in All-Optical Arena

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-05-21

The battlefield is Earth, the weapons are all-optical switches and the combatants are Broadwing with Corvis gear vs. Global Crossing with Lucent Technologies gear.

Every other major communications carrier is watching to see if the two greenfield projects get the claimed 25 percent to 75 percent savings over networks with traditional part-optic, part-electronic transporting and switching gear.

Broadwing CEO Rick Ellenberger is crowing about his companys six-month head start in lighting up a global all-optical network. "Its almost inconceivable what we can do in six months," Ellenberger said. "The challenge is to create real applications and services" so companies, for example, can provision bandwidth in minutes.

And, of course, to stay ahead of Global Crossing, which just announced plans to deploy all-optical switches across its European and Atlantic Ocean mesh network.

Global Crossing will be the first to purchase Lucents WaveStar Lambda Router, the vendor said last week.

Lucents WaveStar Lambda Router is 16 times faster than electronic switches, because it switches traffic at laser speed and is not slowed down by a conversion to electronics.

As networks turn more to 10-gigabit-per-second speeds, the optical-to-electronic-to-optical products become too small for the core backbone. All-optical routers can eliminate many elements from the network, said Gary Austin, Lucents general manager of optical switching systems.

Broadwing turned to start-up Corvis, rather than a more familiar name, after "seeking the world out for the next wave of technology players," Ellenberger said. "Corvis was the one." Qwest Communications International and Williams Communications have already inked deals with Corvis, which announced layoffs last week.

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