Editor’s note: Trendsetters is a regular feature in Local Tech Wire that focuses on emerging companies, technology and trends.On the Centennial Campus of NC State, a company has been working under the radar in high-speed networking labs to prepare for a rollout of products that will rival Cisco.

Despite telecom industry woes, executives at this start-up are convinced it has the potential to capitalize upon gaps in worldwide connectivity. Allied Telesyn Networks, founded by two senior ex-Nortel employees, is no red headed stepchild. With the backing of an international publicly traded company, it has been able to staff its research and development team with 75 employees in the past year. Another 15 or so new positions will be added by year-end.

“We have several advantages over normal startups,” says Jim Holland, vice president of System Development and a co-founder.

Funded with an initial $10 million from Japanese-based parent company Allied Telesis KK, a global leader in high-quality Ethernet based solutions, the Raleigh group also has existing infrastructure, distribution, marketing and sales channels to rely upon.

By virtue of luck, David Dowse, Telesyn president and co-founder, was still working for Nortel when he crossed paths with the CEO of Allied Telesis. “He was sitting on revenue from a previous year that he hoped to invest in new products that would address a different market,” Dowse explains. “Our solutions and products will put in place state-of-the-art carrier grade products.” Dowse and Holland were then recruited to launch the new company.

Their common vision recognizes so-called flexible Ethernet access as the cornerstone for IP services and solutions. Flexible Ethernet helps mesh together Ethernet LANS and optical networks, according to EE Times.

“The expectation is that our products will be somewhat revolutionary,” says Holland. “Our marketing strategy is targeting trend setting markets–those who are spending money right now and other successes will be brought by delivery of our product.”

The company, incubated in October 2001, is on target to complete its first trial of hardware and software products by the end of 2002 and is on track for a marketplace presence during the first quarter of 2003.
“Our products are different from enterprise products,” Dowse says. “They are higher-end and higher-reliability and design is key.”

“We are going after a segment in the market that large companies like Cisco and Nortel are not pursuing,” according to Holland. “We identified a weak link in data networks that will be built in the future and intend to use industry disarray as a way to leverage our success.”

Aimed at global carriers such as BellSouth and NTT, the largest carrier in Japan, Telesyn’s products were developed and engineered with the global market in mind. From copper to fiber access, the products (designed for high-speed access) promise to provide immediate benefits to quality data access whether it uses existing infrastructure or future infrastructure.

“Our portfolio has a good blend of things that are unique and interoperate with industry standards,” Dowse adds.

For now, simply creating new jobs and adding 15,000 square feet of office and lab space is unique to the telecom industry. The real test will become its long-term viability.

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