|January 1, 2001|
Optical Switching's Evangelist
Corvis founder David Huber sees a world of possibilities, including lower telecommunications costs, faster transmission speeds, and more reliability
In 1992, Huber helped create Ciena Corp., which pioneered the concept of dense wavelength division multiplexing, packing multiple transmission channels onto a single optical fiber. But the avid outdoorsman's vision of an all-optical switching and transmission product line wasn't shared by colleagues. So in 1997, he created Corvis Corp., the first company to ship a fully optical commercial telecommunications switch.
As president and CEO, Huber is a tireless pitchman for Corvis' optical products, which eliminate the need to convert optical signals into electrical signals for switching and then back to light waves for transmission. Huber is focused on making sure his company stays ahead of competitors, but rivals aren't going to concede the market. Sycamore Networks Inc. and Qtera Corp., now part of Nortel Networks Corp., are pressing claims to the leadership slot in the optical race.
Corvis is beginning to see revenue, $22.9 million in the third quarter of 2000, from its CorWave all-optical product suite. Its first customer, Broadwing Communications Inc., has successfully tested Corvis gear by transmitting data at 10 Gbps across 4,000 kilometers without optical regenerators, a costly feature that lets older optical equipment boost signals when they lose strength on long-haul routes.
Corvis also has a trial deployment of 2.4-terabyte-per-second gear in the network of Williams Communications Inc., which is set to buy $200 million in Corvis equipment based on the trial's success. Optical switching can eliminate as much as 70% of the cost of switching and transport in telecom networks, can deliver bandwidth immediately, and is more reliable than electrical switching, Huber says.
Huber is driven by a conviction that "he can make things better through technology, and he's proven that with Ciena and now with Corvis," says Shyam Jha, VP of marketing at Corvis. "He's going to drive the future of optical networking. He's not a guy who compromises easily, and he's built a company that won't take no for an answer."
Huber is committed to keeping Corvis in the lead in the optical switching market, and Wall Street seems to think he can pull it off. The company's initial public offering in July was the most successful up to that point. Corvis' shares shot up from $36 to more than $110, closing at $84. But the stock has lost more than half its value since the IPO, giving the company a market capitaization of about $12 billion.Photo by Scott Robinson
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