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Chromatis to Shake Up Optical Market

Startup Chromatis Networks Inc. is the latest on a growing
list of suppliers bringing optical-transport innovations to market in hopes of meeting the
surging capacity requirements of metropolitan-area cable networks.

Chromatis, an Israeli company with U.S. headquarters in
Herndon, Va., developed a multiprotocol approach to delivering signals across
regional-backbone networks.

It allows operators to deploy Sonet-based rings in the
traditional single-wavelength mode at 1310 nanometers and add other Sonet and non-Sonet
transport paths at wavelengths in the 1550-nm window on an as-needed basis, all within the
same fiber strand.

The company's Metropolis family of products is now
available and tests in unnamed carrier networks are already underway.

The company takes a "hybrid" approach to Sonet.
It retains the Sonet overhead that carries signals which control the fault-protection
mechanisms, while allowing use of the payload bandwidth to carry any mixture of protocols,
including asynchronous-transport mode (ATM), frame relay, Internet protocol (IP) and
traditional Sonet time-division multiplex (TDM). This applies to wavelengths added at the
1550 layer as well as to the 1310 wavelength layer.

"This approach allows people to use optics in the most
efficient way possible, starting with multiple-protocol transport within a single
Sonet-based wavelength and then moving to additional wavelengths as capacity needs
expand," marketing vice president Doug Green said. "This provides a 10-to-1
first cost advantage over traditional systems and much lower overall cost of ownership for
dense WDM."

The Chromatis system includes two classes of integrated
switching, routing and cross-connect systems -- one for the metro-network interfaces with
local-distribution networks, and a second for interfaces with long-distance and other
external networks.

Chromatis also addresses the complex operations-management
issues that face multi-protocol operations within a metro network. It provides a single
point of user interface to monitor performance, including a feature that funnels multiple
alarms at various layers of the architecture into a single alarm message, Green noted.

"Service providers trying to keep track of their
networks on big wall-mounted screens don't want to have to sort through a series of
alarms to try to find out what's really going on," he said.

The capabilities Chromatis supports will help cable systems
to meet the growing demand for data and launch video-on-demand, said Barry Hardek,
director of cable-market development at the company.

"There's even talk of being able to wholesale
network capacity, which you can do very effectively if you have a flexible, fully
integrated network," he said.