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Cisco to unveil new optical equipment

The networking titan will unveil its latest attempt to conquer the optical-networking market at a trade show this week amid heavy competition from rivals.

    Cisco Systems will unveil its latest attempt to conquer the optical-networking market at a trade show this week amid heavy competition from rivals.

    The network equipment maker will show off the ONS 15200, a series of three machines that run on existing technology that helps telephone-service carriers increase the capacity in metropolitan networks.

    Cisco, along with every other major player in the telecommunications equipment industry, is trying to catch the growth in the burgeoning market for data services in urban areas.

    "Growth in the metropolitan market is outstanding right now," said Carl Russo, vice president of Cisco's optical-networking business unit.

    Recent research indicates that even though the metro market is smaller, it will grow about twice as fast as the long-haul network market, which sends data between cities.

    The announcement is another move by Cisco to step up its efforts in the optical market, which comprises less than 10 percent of its revenue.

    In addition, the San Jose, Calif.-based company has met fervent competition from other optical-equipment makers like Nortel Networks and Juniper Networks.

    One study showed that Juniper continues to consume Cisco's market share in the high-end routers that ship Internet traffic.

    Juniper's market share grew from 26 percent in the 2000 third quarter to 30 percent in the fourth quarter. During that time, Cisco's market share fell from 73 percent to 69 percent, the study shows.

    The ONS 15200 machines run on DWDM (dense wavelength division multiplexing) technology, which increases the amount of information that can be sent through fiber-optic networks.

    The technology "opens up more capacity on a given piece of fiber, putting more and more wavelength into the fiber and therefore allowing more (network) traffic," Russo said.

    Optical networks use pulses of light sent by lasers down glass fibers as opposed to slower copper wire networks, which send electrical signals.

    DWDM transmits more information down a single strand of fiber by sending the information in many different colors of light thereby using more of the color spectrum, which uses more of the available space in the fiber.

    The ONS 15200 equipment will be shown at the Optical Fiber Communications conference in Anaheim, Calif.