Narad Pushes 'Virtual Fiber' Software System

If it looks like coax, must it act like coax? Not necessarily, argues broadband newcomer Narad Networks Inc.

Launched last July, Narad is trying to make waves with a "virtual fiber" software system whose aim is to morph simple coax into a conduit capable of carrying fiber-like data speeds over legacy hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) networks.

Narad's software-based platform harnesses existing network hardware, allowing cable operators to push their networks closer to new areas without spending large sums of cash and expending labor on fiber builds, said company CEO Dev Gupta.

That can help operators leverage about 95 percent of the investment they've already sunk into their networks as they pursue the lucrative small- to midsized business market, he added.

With Narad's software, an operator could generate a twofold increase in service revenue from the same node, Gupta predicted.

Gupta's conclusion is based on assumptions that a 500-home node typically serves about 300 paying residential customers and passes about 25 potential commercial users. If an operator could get just eight businesses on that node to sign up for a bundle of voice, video and data services-plus value-added enhancements such as virtual private networks-it would be like adding another 300 residential subscribers to the bottom line.

Though Narad's system has yet to be tried outside of a lab, the company hopes cable operators will begin some initial trials and perhaps a few commercial deployments before the end of the year. More details about Narad and its software will be presented at the forthcoming Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers Cable-Tec Expo May 8 through 11 in Orlando, Fla.

Last month, Narad secured $41.6 million in private financing. Its board of directors include Gupta; Narad executive vice president and co-founder Andy Chapman; Polaris Venture Partners managing general partner Jon Flint; Polaris venture partner and 3Com Corp. founder Bob Metcalfe and YAS Corp. CEO and Cable Television Laboratories Inc. executive consultant Rouzbeh Yassini.