Corvis seems on DWDM quest That would put Huber in competition with his old company, Ciena

Telecommunications

December 22, 1998|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF Staff writer Edward Lee contributed to this article.

Corvis Corp., a privately owned Columbia telecommunications equipment firm that is planning to expand from 96 to 1,500 employees by 2001, remains mum about precisely what part of the booming telecom market it plans to enter.

However, all indications are that it intends to duplicate -- at least in part -- a strategy that has worked once for its president and founder, David R. Huber.

Huber was the founder of Ciena Corp., a Linthicum company that shattered financial records and rose to international prominence by making gear that enables phone lines to handle more calls and Internet messages.

This technology -- called dense wavelength division multiplexing, or DWDM -- has been seized upon eagerly by phone companies that seek to expand their network capacity.

Now it appears that DWDM will be the main offering of Corvis, the company Huber inaugurated after leaving Ciena in 1997.

Corvis has placed Internet help-wanted advertisements in which it calls itself "a hi-tech DWDM company" that is "moving dramatic DWDM product to manufacturing stage."

Corvis' Internet ads suggest that the company is eager to establish manufacturing operations quickly. One of the ads says the company "will be needing assemblers and technicians over the next three- five month period as the manufacturing area grows." If Corvis, indeed, grows to 1,500 workers, it would become one of the largest private employers in Howard County.

For now, Corvis is simply another high-tech company with big ZTC dreams and an unknown future. "They're still in the research and development stage. They're not producing anything yet," said Richard W. Story, director of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, who has spoken with Corvis officials over the past year about the company's expansion plans. "They're developing new technology." Huber and other Corvis officials did not return calls.

Analysts said Corvis might find a niche selling DWDM to start-up local-service phone companies that are trying to skim customers from Bell Atlantic and the other regional phone giants. So far, DWDM has been pitched primarily to large long-distance firms such as AT&T Corp. and MCI WorldCom Inc.

"There are a lot of growth opportunities in DWDM," said Nikos Theodosopoulos of Warburg Dillon Read LLC in New York.

Huber's re-entry into DWDM would create new competition for his old company. "If I were [Ciena], I'd be watching this very closely," said John B. Nitzke, a technology analyst in Acton, Mass. "It's their technology that's most at risk, because it's their technology that he knows the best."

Ciena officials declined to discuss Huber's venture. "It'd be hard for us to comment about something we don't know anything about," said company spokesman Denny Bilter.

Pub Date: 12/22/98

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