Lucent and TeraBeam to Create Laser Network System

FRAMINGHAM (04/12/2000) - The last-mile bandwidth bottleneck between the enterprise and high-speed access points has been a problem in search of a solution. A fiberless optical network system being backed by Lucent Technologies Inc. may be the answer.

Murray Hill, New Jersey-based Lucent Technologies Inc. announced today that it has entered into a joint venture with TeraBeam Networks Inc. in Seattle to develop and deploy TeraBeam's through-the-air multipoint optical networking system.

The two companies will form TeraBeam Internet Systems, a venture scheduled to begin commercial deployment of TeraBeam's fiberless optical network later this year. Lucent will take a 30% stake in the company while TeraBeam will retain 70% ownership, the companies said.

The TeraBeam technology is optic, but it doesn't use fiber-optic cable, said Dan Hasse, chief executive officer of Terabeam. The TeraBeam system uses lasers to carry network traffic to office buildings through the air. No rooftop permissions or cable rights-of-way are needed, Hasse said, because the user's network sending-and-receiving device, which looks like a small satellite dish, can be placed behind an office windowpane.

Moreover, since the system uses light waves instead of radio frequencies, licensing of wireless radio spectrum isn't an issue. And because the system is point-to-multipoint, one TeraBeam hub can serve multiple buildings, Hasse explained.

Hasse said the existing Terabeam technology is "hundreds of times faster than T-1 lines." TeraBeam runs at gigabit/sec. speeds, he said.

Hasse did note that TeraBeam would eventually utilize dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) through the air. DWDM is a technology that separates a single beam of light into multiple wavelengths. A single data stream can ride on each wavelength, effectively multiplying the amount of traffic that be delivered optically.

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