Monday, March 4, 2002

Convergent ready to serve RBOCs

Published in Interface Tech News

LOWELL, Mass. ‹ Moving to offer its products to a wider market of larger companies, Convergent Networks has put its ICS2000 broadband switch through the testing process in order to assure buyers it will properly integrate with new and legacy telephone network equipment.

"Now we can plug-and-play," said Carl Baptiste, Convergent's director of product marketing.

The process, designed by Telcordia (formerly Bellcore) and called OSMINE, is a nine-month sequence of testing and documentation designed to ensure equipment functions reliably as part of the telephone system.

Convergent is now engaged in talks with Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), and is confident of making sales soon.

Other Convergent customers ‹ about 30 CLECs around the country ‹ are in the process of installing the switches in their systems, Baptiste said.

"We certainly have customers who have money and are spending with us," he said. "Next-gen equipment is one of the bright spots."

The privately held company does not release much financial information, but it has 200 employees and revenues in the tens of millions of dollars, Baptiste said. The company's existing customer base bills three billion minutes per month of telephone traffic on Convergent equipment, he said. But the prospect of a major carrier as a customer has the company thinking bigger.

"Winning one of those networks could be as big as all of the business we've done, over time," Baptiste said. Finding a small bit of Verizon's $17 billion annual capital expenditure budget is one target, he said.

The company hopes to draw big customers not only with standard-compliant equipment, but also with next-generation telephone features and continued inter-working between packet and PSTN voice systems.

Yankee Group senior analyst Mindy Hiebert said the company knows what it is talking about. "Convergent is serious about going after these service providers," she said. The company has been buckled down in the testing phase for several months now, and the company may have to wait until later this year for marketing efforts to really pay off.

Also, Hiebert said, the RBOCs might not make big moves until they are challenged by smaller competitors. But, she said, the possible buyers are big companies that have real money to spend, when they open their checkbooks.