– Mark Twain (1835–1910), writer and humorist
Both Ciena and Cerent’s timing was excellent. These startups took advantage of the confluence of the latest available technology meeting strong market demand at just the right time. Deregulation of the telecom market in 1996 boosted the entrance of new service providers building Greenfield networks and entrenched telecom operators spending to counter the competitive threats. The demand for more cost-effective equipment in both long-haul and metropolitan markets skyrocketed.
Ciena took on Nortel and Lucent in the long-haul, while Cerent dealt with Nortel Lucent, Alcatel, and Fujitsu in securing metropolitan optical transport business. These four legacy suppliers of SONET found it difficult to reform their approach to optical transport networks. Ciena’s optical regeneration approach, for example, decimated Nortel and Lucent’s OC-48 regenerator business and denied Nortel the ability to reap the benefits of high-margin OC-192 regenerator configurations of its pioneering 10 Gb/s S/DMS TransportNode product.
Since the SONET majority couldn’t reform their optical platforms in the 1990s, two upstart startups led the telecom reformation.