British firm invades U.S. optical market

By Tim Greene, Network World |  Networking

European optical start-up Ilotron hopes to elbow its way into the already crowded U.S. optical market by introducing a remotely manageable and configurable all-optical switch.

Based in England, the company makes the Optical Wavelength Switch (OWS), a device that takes in optical fibers and switches the light channels to other fibers using microscopic mirrors. Carriers would use the OWS in the core of their networks to carry high volumes of customer traffic.

The company compares its product most closely to the CorWave optical switches made by the U.S. firm Corvis, whose equipment is already being used by Broadwing Communications, the national all-optical service provider spawned by Cincinnati Bell. Corvis is already shipping equipment, while Ilotron says it will ship this fall.

In the meantime, Ilotron says its OWS can handle 160 wavelengths per fiber pulsing at 10G bit/sec.

It claims the switch can pull out any one of these wavelengths if it is weak, convert it to an electrical signal and regenerate it as a stronger light signal. Similarly, it can regenerate a signal as a different wavelength to fit on a fiber where the initial wavelength is already taken.

Ilotron provides a management system that manages just its devices, but it supports Q3, SNMP and Common Object Request Broker Architecture so it can interface with network management software written by other vendors. The Ilotron management system lets carriers set up and tear down connections across a number of devices from a central management station.

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