Dave Stehlin, President of Overture Networks on backhaul and Ethernet

Dave StehlinIt has been over a year since Overture Networks acquired the former Ceterus Networks. And while neither company revealed the price paid for the deal, the two companies are working to develop an integrated product portfolio that can address not only business Ethernet services, but a host of wholesale Ethernet opportunities including wireless backhaul. Despite the fact that 2009 was a tough economic year that prompted service providers to cut back on equipment spending, Overture managed to close out the year with 225 customers and a 69 percent increase in bookings. We caught up with Dave Stehlin, President of Overture Networks, to talk about the company's growth and how it is responding to the emerging wireless backhaul and business service trends.   

FierceTelecom: Dave, it's been over a year since Overture Networks acquired your former company Ceterus Networks and appointed you president of the newly combined company. Can you talk about the first year?
It has been a little over a year. Jeff Reedy and I had talked for a while in advance about doing the merger, so I knew what we were getting into in terms of philosophy and how we deliver products to customers. That made the ability to integrate the teams much easier. They had very conservative engineering groups, but solid people that understand the telecom markets and don't want to rush into things. There's a lot of commonality there. We brought a lot of new customers combined. We have one integrated team now, so the marketing and sales team are out there selling everything to the to the whole customer base. The whole backhaul space has grown substantially as has the business services side.

There's no overlap in terms of customers, so we did not have a lot of pain from migrating customers from one platform to another. Additionally, from a technology perspective Overture had been focused on business services while Ceterus had focused on mobile backhaul for the most part. We're at a point now where we have finished up the development projects that were underway and we started working on joint project. These include common platforms, which are really critical because we want to have a common look and feel across all of our products for our customers.

FierceTelecom: Last year's economic crisis prompted many service providers to tighten their purse strings, but Overture had a 69 percent increase in customer bookings last year. What do you attribute that success to? Is it wireless backhaul, business services?
What we have found is carriers have not slowed down spending on carrier Ethernet. They recognize that that's the path of the future, and if they have to spend money, they're going to spend it on new carrier Ethernet equipment rather than old Digital Cross Connect or old ADMs, for example. They recognize the importance of carrier Ethernet because the customers are telling them that whether it is wireless carriers or business enterprises saying that. That's an area where they have ratcheted up their spending. Even in the last few months, we've seen additional acceleration from some of the carriers spending more money on carrier Ethernet.

FierceTelecom: With various carrier wins such as NuVox and COLT under your belt, would it be safe to say that you are seeing a decent uptick in business Ethernet sales?
Ethernet is clearly a focus of COLT's not only the UK, but around the world. They have a pretty big footprint they are trying to establish. Folks like NuVox, which of course was recently purchased by Windstream, are very focused on business services and their customers are telling them it's about Ethernet.

We also have some of the largest LECs in the U.S. and their big distributed enterprise customers are moving away from Frame and ATM to Ethernet. We've been involved with RFPs for multi-hundreds and in some cases multi-thousands of sites that need to be connected via Ethernet. It seems like on the business services carriers are moving as fast as their customers want them to move.

Click here for Part II of the interview