Several weeks back when CenturyLink announced its 100G product launch and expansion, the gear they were using was unspecified. There was speculation at the time that it was Infinera’s long awaited Tier 1 win for its DTN-X, and today that speculation became reality. CenturyLink has deployed Infinera’s gear in its backbone, the Tier 1 deed is finally done.
The interesting thing is that technically, Infinera has had this Tier 1 customer on the rolls for many years now. You see, there was once a metro fiber company called OnFiber who back in 2004 or 2005 signed on with Infinera’s first generation technology. OnFiber, which not so coincidentally was co-founded by Infinera’s own Jagdeep Singh, was then bought by Qwest back in 2006 to bolster its on/off ramps, and of course CenturyLink then bought Qwest in more recent times.
But having a big customer who inherited some DTN gear in the metro is nowhere near the same thing as being selected to power the next generation of CenturyLink’s intercity transport network and IP/MPLS backbone, which is now the case. CenturyLink is sitting on one of the largest national footprints of intercity fiber and conduit out there after all this consolidation, and is hence a major prize that competitors like Ciena, Huawei, NSN, and Alcatel-Lucent will have fought hard for.
Much of the speculation around Infinera’s Tier 1 breakthrough had been around Verizon, which had lent its name to the DTN-X launch last year. That story may yet develop of course, and will no doubt fuel further rumors. But at least the ‘when will they get a Tier 1′ mantra can hopefully die at last, since it’s not that meaningful anyway given that nobody really agrees what the designation means other than ‘big customer’. Revenues and profits are what really matter, and since the DTN-X is already deployed we’ll start to see a few dollars from CenturyLink appear in Infinera’s Q4 results on that front.