Friday, September 7, 2001

Sonus refines market approach

Published in Interface Tech News

WESTFORD, Mass. ‹ Sonus Networks continued to broaden its partnership with companies in the packet-switched voice sector in early August by adding seven new companies to its roster, which includes nearly 150 companies providing add-ons to Sonus' hardware.

Sonus provides hardware and basic software for switching voice traffic on packet networks, allowing phone and data carriers to handle all of their traffic over one network, rather than two parallel ones, as is done presently.

Company CEO Steve Nill said Sonus puts together hardware and software and a basic set of applications for voice switching, and allows other companies to build additional applications, permitting clients to buy products and services that have already been tested together.

Mindy Hiebert, a senior analyst at the Boston-based Yankee Group noted that most of the company's announcements this year have been about companies testing Sonus products or working to build on them. With so much testing and so little roll-out, Hiebert said she is guarded about the company's future.

Sonus is changing its technical focus, Hiebert said. "The product that they have right now is very focused on (class 4) Internet offload," she said. "They're trying to migrate it to class 5."

Such a major change in technology, Hiebert said, makes her cautious. "I haven't seen them demonstrate the (technical) acumen to do what they're trying to do," she said. "(Carriers) want a viable solution in their network that they know is going to hold out. They can't afford any network outages."

Nill said the company and its partners are targeting the multibillion-dollar worldwide circuit switch market. He wants to see RBOCs, large CLECs, and "next-generation carriers" like Global Crossing and Qwest using Sonus products.

In April, Japan's Fusion Communications began using Sonus products. Fusion subscribers now number 510,000 customers in 17 Japanese cities. BellSouth has said it will use Sonus products to migrate traffic off its voice networks.

The company had second-quarter revenues up 27 percent from the first quarter this year, while spending 30 cents per share as compared with 51 cents per share in the first quarter. Sonus is expecting $200 million in revenue this year, Nill said.

"We're just not seeing and not hearing what their capabilities are moving forward," Hiebert said, adding there haven't been enough large-scale deployments of Sonus products to prove they can do what they say.

Nill remained confident in the potential of the company's products and services. "We're bringing client-server to voice," he said.