Hatteras offers Ethernet for the fiberless

Start-up Hatteras Networks Inc. this week said it has service provider access gear that delivers Ethernet services over fiber or copper cabling, making it possible to reach more corporations with such services.

The company says it has technology that supports Ethernet services over copper access lines as long as 12,000 feet, making it possible for carriers to reach the majority of corporate customers at businesses without fiber networks. The company, however, won't unveil specific products for several months.

While the largest corporate sites do sit on fiber routes, market research firm Infonetics Research Inc. says they represent only 10 percent of all business sites.

The company will not say exactly how it accomplishes this, but it claims the technology will not disrupt services that run in adjacent wires within the same wiring cable. The technology can carry Ethernet traffic anywhere between one and four pairs of copper wires, with the total possible bandwidth increasing as more pairs are added, Hatteras claims.

With four pairs, Hatteras can transport 10M bit/sec over 12,000 feet, the company says. Over fiber, Hatteras has plans to support 100M bit/sec Ethernet, and eventually Gigabit Ethernet.

Hatteras devices will include an aggregation device that sits at a carrier switching office, in a remote terminal or on a utility pole, as well as a customer site device to terminate connections. Customers will be able to buy Ethernet services in 1M bit/sec increments, Hatteras says, and its equipment will support reconfiguring devices remotely to boost bandwidth.

This will enable providers to change services without sending out a technician, reducing the time it takes to implement service changes.

The customer-site gear will include Ethernet interfaces that face the LAN as well as T-1 interfaces to connect to a PBX.

Hatteras will face competition from makers of Gigabit Ethernet routers and fiber access gear such as passive optical networking equipment.

The equipment will support virtual LANs, and will keep separate the VLAN tags from different customer sites without requiring customers to use different tags to avoid overlap. The gear will also support multiple priorities per customer, so customers could have a premium flow for high-priority traffic and a lower priority flow for less important traffic.

Hatteras was founded in July 2000 and is funded by $29 million from Bessemer Venture Partners, ComVentures and Columbia Capital. It has 65 employees, with the top management hailing from such businesses as Nortel Networks Corp., Bay Networks Inc. and Alcatel SA.

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