Start-Up Touts Low-Cost Optical Fiber Connections

Quantum Bridge says it has tools to link computers that are miles apart via 10M-bit/sec optical fiber connections that cost about the same as 1.5M-bit/sec T-1s.

The 15-month-old company claims carriers that use its passive optical network gear can charge US$500 to $1,000 per month for WAN access links at LAN speeds and still recoup their hardware investments within a year. Similar services today cost $750 to $2,000, depending on the carrier, bandwidth and distance between the customer and the service provider switching office.

"It's upping the ante here about how much bandwidth you can distribute affordably," says Rosemary Cochran, an analyst with Vertical Systems Group in Dedham, Massachusetts.

Customers need inexpensive high-speed access technology that lets them take advantage of the mushrooming backbone capacity carriers have by virtue of advances in core network technologies such as dense wave division multiplexing, Cochran says.

Vertical Systems says 76 percent of businesses with 75 employees or more are within a mile of optical fiber, making it possible for carriers to extend fiber directly to those potential customers.

Quantum Bridge equipment splits wavelengths of light into time slots so each wavelength can be shared by up to 32 customers. If customers need more bandwidth, they get it in 1.7M-bit/sec chunks by adding time slots. Quantum Bridge says its gear gives carriers the option to let customers add and drop bandwidth using secure Web connections.

A QB5000 optical access switch at a carrier switching office assembles customer traffic on fiber strands and QB100 intelligent optical terminals at customer sites pick off just individual customers' traffic.

As the fiber branches out from the switching office to reach customers, the light is diverted using passive optical splitters and couplers that require no electronics. The system supports access links of 20 kilometers or more depending on how many customers are being fed by one wavelength.

Customers plug their LAN gear in to either T-1 ports or a 10/100M-bit/sec Ethernet port on a QB100. Later releases of the equipment will feature Gigabit Ethernet, fiber channel and OC-3, OC-12 and OC-48 ports, the company says.

Scheduled to ship in June, the company's products cost $7,000 per customer for 200 QB 100s supported by a fully loaded QB5000.

Quantum Bridge:

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