The Show Must Go On — and On

A down year doesn't mean an end to product fanfare.

Elton apparently has left the building. Nortel Networks wont be offering an encore of last years invitation-only Elton John concert to mark the 2002 edition of Supercomm in Atlanta. But attendees of the annual telecom main event can expect some joyful noise from suppliers, especially those hawking passive optical networking and video technologies.

On the PON front, Alcatel is expected to announce a PON fiber-to-the-unit platform along with several partners on the initiative, including General Bandwidth. Alcatel wouldnt confirm details on its announcements, but it may also use Supercomm to announce a key customer win. SBC Communications is rumored to have agreed to deploy Alcatels new PON platform in its Mission Bay, Calif., development. SBC has been working with Paceon on its PON deployments up to now.

NEC Eluminant is set to announce its fiber-to-the-business PON system, called FiberSLAM 1000. And leading up to Supercomm, Quantum Bridge Communications hopes to announce partnership deals with other vendors.

PON partnerships will be a theme at this years Supercomm, says Charlie Guyer, spokesman for Quantum Bridge. "Well see some integration efforts between vendors adding PON as a standard interface," he says.

In the Picture

On the video front, Lucent Technologies plans to elaborate on its video over IP plans and is scheduled to demonstrate an IP video-capable version of its Stinger DSL platform.

Next Level Communications will be pushing its new video-friendly ADSL+ technology and is expected to announce new deals with Myrio, Gemstar-TV Guide and iMagicTV. Other vendors expected to make ADSL video announcements include Harmonic, Minerva Networks, Optibase and

Makers of backbone routing and switching equipment are ready to show off their newest wares as well. Vivace Networks will showcase its multiservice switch, which is set to be introduced this week. Alcatel, Cisco Systems and Lucent will bring their respective hybrid ATM/MPLS systems to Atlanta.

Action will be lighter on the pure IP side. Juniper Networks will officially unveil its long-awaited next-generation router. But new IP router makers will be conspicuously absent. At press time, only Hyperchip was on the list of Supercomm exhibitors; Caspian Networks, Pluris and Procket Networks were not.

As a sort of ode to 1999, at least two proponents of all-optical networking technology will be at Supercomm. Ceyba and Innovance Networks will demonstrate portions of their respective switching and transport systems. Supercomm will coincide with the general availability of Ceybas product line, including an optical add/drop module, says Doug Ranahan, director of business development at Ceyba.

Two clear trends will characterize the operations support system segment at Supercomm. First, integration is in again, as larger vendors present comprehensive OSSs while smaller companies band together in strategic alliances. Agilent will exhibit the first two products from its new portfolio, developed by the integration of its testing and monitoring expertise with the network management software it acquired a year ago when it bought Objective Systems Integrators. Likewise, DSET will be on hand to discuss its recent merger with ISPsoft.

The second OSS trend will center on efforts to bring the functionality and reliability of voice networks to the IP world. "Todays networks are hybrids, and network operators need the ability to get an integrated view of a service, like voice over IP, that crosses multiple networks," says Jack Troutman, VP and general manager of Agilents Communications Management line.

Although its no surprise that wireless usually doesnt make a splash at Supercomm, the surprise this year is that some vendors plan to talk about fixed broadband wireless. Considering that that sector has spent the past year on life support, these vendors come to the show carrying the same torch — the belief that fixed wireless can compete with wired services in residential and enterprise broadband markets.