Zhone Announces Its Local-Loop Plans

Zhone Technologies Inc., a lavishly funded year-old startup founded by former executives of Ascend Communications, has dropped its cloak of mystery to announce that it is preparing a line of hardware and software to provision and support local voice and data services.

Zhone has laid out a local-loop architecture that defines the equipment service providers need to install from customer buildings to carrier switching offices. The equipment includes customer site gear, a concentrator that aggregates customer traffic, a broadband access switch and a multiservice local voice/data switch.

In addition, Zhone is developing Zhone Management System, XML-based software that manages the Zhone devices and interfaces with standard service-provider operations support system software, billing systems and databases. These interfaces can be based on CORBA, Java, XML or other languages, depending on what the legacy platforms support.

ZMS makes the entire local loop, from customer to switching office, appear as if it is one device, simplifying the provisioning of new services, Zhone says.

Zhone is now announcing just one of the hardware elements of its architecture, the broadband access node (BAN). This device performs the functions of an array of separate devices including DSL access multiplexers, cable modem termination device, digital loop carrier, voice gateway, fixed wireless terminal, digital access and cross connect, and subscriber management system.

The gear is modular, with different cards supporting different functions. The box will be available at year-end, Zhone says.

Also due out by year-end is the Zhone integrated access device, called Z-Edge, which sits at customer sites. Zhone would not release details about it. Scheduled for availability by spring is the multiple access line concentrator or MALC, which the company also would not describe.

Former Chairman and CEO of Ascend Communications Mory Ejabat founded Zhone in 1999 before it was bought by Lucent. The company is running on US$500 million in borrowed money and has made a string of acquisitions to obtain technology and sales staff.

Those deals include wireless local-loop vendor OptaPhone Systems, Internet software maker Roundview, carrier access gear maker Premisys, and hardware manufacturer CAG Technologies.

Zhone: www.zhone.com.

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