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Tellium Finishes Astarte Acquisition

Tellium Inc., finished securing key fiber-optic patent rights with the completion of its acquisition of rival Astarte Fiber Networks Monday.

Announced earlier this year, the acquisition expands Tellium's intellectual property in all-optical switching equipment, namely its flagship product, the Aurora Full-Spectrum switch. The switch is designed to exploit the bit-rate independent carrying potential of all-optical switches, managing and controlling a backbone up to OC-768.

Three patents reaped immediate rewards for the Oceanport, NJ, company, with the licensing of servo and control systems for micro electro-mechanical systems patents to Corning Inc., for its optical fiber, cable and photonic product line.

Krishna Bala, Tellium chief technology officer, said Astarte patents were a key reason it was targeted for acquisition.

"When we started the development of the Aurora Full-Spectrum product line, we identified companies with leading technologies in the optical arena," Bala said. "Astarte is ideal because of the strength of its intellectual property portfolio. We are excited to see the value of such intellectual property validated through license by a company of Corning's caliber. This acquisition is a major milestone in the development of our Aurora Full-Spectrum all-optical switch."

Tellium officials are hoping completion of the acquisition and its hefty contracts pique investor curiosity, as the company is nearly one month into its $250 initial public offering, announced Sept. 22. It will trade under the NASDAQ symbol TELM.

Industry experts consider the acquisition a good move. Many see the company taking positive steps to compete with the likes of Nortel Networks CIENA Corp. and Sycamore Networks Inc.

The company has signed several key contracts this year to reinforce that opinion. The company signed a $300 million contract with Qwest Communications, a $350 million contract with Cable & Wireless Global Networks Ltd. and $250 million contract with Extant Inc.

The company has been doling out stock to secure some contracts, namely in the case of Qwest. All told, two of Qwest's subsidiaries received two million shares while the telco's officers and affiliates received 333,333 shares of stock.

AT&T Corp. received 1.5 million shares of stock in exchange for Tellium's use of Ma Bell intellectual property.

Science Applications International Corp. and Lucent Technologies Inc. still hold the lion's share of Tellium, however, with 22 and 10.4 percent, respectively, of the voting stock.



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