Ciena Closes on IP, Focuses on Cable

Network-equipment provider Ciena Corp. has closed its acquisition of Internet Photonics, strengthening its position in the cable industry. Ciena was one of the new telecom vendors borne of the Internet/telecommunications boom that survived the ensuing downturn.

It pecked away at the big business held by Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks Inc., and has now expanded its product line into cable with IP’s Gigabit Ethernet and dense wave-division multiplexing businesses. Seven of the top 10 MSOs currently use IP’s gear in their networks.

“It was apparent for us that this whole cable space is where we could add a lot of value to the technology we’ve got,” said Ciena president and CEO Gary Smith. “But we didn’t have critical mass, in terms of a solution that would be attractive, and we looked a at number of companies.”

After that examination, Ciena settled on Internet Photonics. “It was very well-optimized, and we wanted to get to critical mass in the cable space,” Smith said.

The technology platforms meshed well, with IP’s video-on-demand and business-services product lines matching up with Ciena’s carrier-grade telephony equipment, in which the cable industry has a growing interest.

Operators are beginning to look at putting different services — VOD, HDTV, data and even voice — on the same DWDM platform, according to Ciena director of cable-segment marketing Joe Cumello. “Each customer or new customer wants to leverage us that way,” he said.

One major MSO that used IP gear for its VOD rollout has already begun using part of its bandwidth for high-speed data transport, he noted. For example, one MSO is using three of the 8 Gigabit streams in a GB-Gig wavelength for VOD, three wavelengths for commercial services and two wavelengths for voice-over-Internet protocol telephone traffic.

“We’re finding [that] new applications are starting to appear, like getting VoIP onto the network,” Cumello said. “With [HDTV], we’re the platform that makes that happen. Another application is wireless backhaul.”

Smith said operators also are looking at regional and national long-haul networks, as well as intelligent switching.

“We’re starting to have some conversations,” he said. “We have VoIP, media gateway capabilities and next-generation broadband applications.”

To focus more attention on the cable space, Ciena has formed a separate business unit.

Peter Dale, who ran IP’s cable business unit, will direct the new group.