Broadcom’s $80M ‘Perfect Storm’

By Ed Sutherland

Broadcom’s purchase of Ethernet switch maker Sandburst for $80 million
is “sort of a ‘perfect storm’ of technology and markets
coming together” said Martin Lund, vice president and general manager of the
networking switching business unit at Broadcom.

Cable and DSL providers are increasingly turning to Ethernet for the
backend of converged networks offering voice, video and data through one
broadband pipe.

Switches with traffic management, such as those from
Sandburst, provide triple-play services to thousands of subscribers
without losing quality of service.

The purchase, expected to be final March 31, makes Broadcom “well
positioned to catch the next wave of the burgeoning Metro Ethernet
market,” Ford Tamer, Broadcom’s senior vice
president and general manager for the company’s networking
infrastructure group, said in a statement.

Broadcom, which already offers the Strata XGS III Ethernet switch for
enterprise customers, believes Sandburst’s HiBeam switches provide
Broadcom “end-to-end Ethernet” spanning business and consumers.

“By acquiring Sandburst, Broadcom is poised to accelerate the
convergence of triple-play traffic in service provider networks,”
said Tamer.

Formed in 2000 during the height of the tech crash, Sandburst has
attracted many high-profile customers, including HP and
Enterasys, Vince Graziani, president and CEO of Sandburst, said.

For consumers, metropolitan Ethernet could mean
downloading videos in a fraction of the time it currently takes,
Lund told Today’s networks would be crushed under such demands. “This is a bottleneck that must be fixed.”

Driven by demand for more bandwidth to serve new broadband
applications, the metro Ethernet market could reach $5.5 billion by
2009, according to IDC.

However, look for metropolitan Ethernet first
outside the U.S. and Europe with new network infrastructure, according
to Graziani.

Metropolitan Ethernet is doing well in Japan, where the networking
technology is employed to deliver Ethernet to the home, according to
Graziani. Japan’s carrier NTT has invested in Sandburst.

Although the metropolitan market won’t gather steam in
the U.S. until service providers begin upgrading their broadband
networks, Graziani said, there are some signs of movement.

Sandburst introduced today its MetroBox-AS access switch. The switch
is being offered by Taiwanese Accton Technology Corporation to deliver
metro Ethernet to multi-tenant units and for triple-play services.

That announcement follows news that Sandburst rival Atrica inked a deal to
provide Ethernet boxes to NYC-area cable provider Optimum Lightpath.

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