Actelis says it has cure for fiber exhaustion

Actelis Networks this week announced the availability of a product designed to provide fiber optic-like service over copper wires.

Actelis' MetaLoop "supermodem," as the company describes it, enables multiple copper lines to support speeds ranging from 10M bit/sec to 55M bit/sec, at up to 12,000 to 18,000 feet - capabilities usually associated only with fiber. MetaLoop is intended to serve customers who don't have access to fiber.

MetaLoop is a patented spatial division multiplexing algorithm introduced by Actelis 17 months ago.

Actelis also announced that incumbent local exchange carrier Cincinnati Bell, a wholly owned subsidiary of competitive telecom carrier Broadwing, is using MetaLoop. Cincinnati Bell provides local services to customers in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

Cincinnati Bell put MetaLight 1500 boxes into its network just over a month ago to serve two customers that wanted high-speed connections but didn’t have access to fiber lines, says Dennis Hinkel, Cincinnati Bell’s senior vice president of network and operations.

So far, Hinkel says, the technology has worked without any problems.

The carrier plans to use MetaLoop for two purposes. The first is as a permanent substitute for fiber lines in cases where it isn’t economical to install a fiber line; the second is as an interim connection for customers that need to wait weeks or months to have fiber lines installed.

Not only does MetaLoop provide fiber-like speeds, says Tuvia Barlev, Actelis’ president and CEO, but it provides fiber-like reliability. Copper loops on their own aren’t very reliable, Barlev says.

But because MetaLoop uses multiple copper loops – anywhere from eight to 48 – the failure of any one line won’t bring the connection down. All it does is reduce the total bandwidth for the time the one loop is down, Barlev says.

Cincinnati Bell’s Hinkel says the bit rate and throughput over a MetaLoop connection may not be as predictable as over copper. But he adds that the connections are stable.

“If you’re relying on eight pairs and one pair goes bad, you don’t lose the connection,” he says. “You just lose the bandwidth.”

MetaLoop, which is based on G.SHDSL technology, can reach up to 18,000 feet from a carrier central office, which makes it applicable to last-mile connections to enterprises, backhaul for cellular towers, or backhaul for DSL access multiplexers, Barlev says.

The rack-mountable MetaLight boxes that provide the MetaLoop service are four rack-units high. The products are NEBS 3- and OSMINE-compliant, and are hardened for outdoor use.

OSMINE is Telcordia’s certification that a product can be integrated into the operational support systems of major carriers.

Each MetaLight device has one DS-3 interface and four DS-1 interfaces. They are designed to be fully redundant with extra control and line card modules, fans and power.

The cost for two boxes will range from $15,000 to $30,000, Barlev says.

David Passmore, a research director with The Burton Group in Herndon, Va., says only about 10% of the business locations in the U.S. have access to fiber; so that 90% without access to fiber is MetaLoop's potential market. Other companies, including Hatteras Networks, are going after the same market, he says.

But so far, Actelis appears to be the only company in the Ethernet-over-copper market that has achieved T-3 rates, he adds.

Actelis was founded in 1998 and has raised $77 million to date, which should last into 2004, Barlev says.

This story, "Actelis says it has cure for fiber exhaustion" was originally published by The Edge.

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