Tellabs Takes Over: First Moves

Well on December 1, 2004 I became a Tellabs Employee. Things had already changed with John Schofield, Keith Pratt, Jack Ermey and others leaving immediately. More to come from a personnel standpoint but the next thing that changed for me was my direct boss and role.

I started working for a gentleman named Carl DeWilde. He came from Fujitsu and Xterra and was a former colleague of Krish Prabhu. He had a lot of time working in Telecom especially with Tier 1 Carriers. He had no experience in Access and that why they kept me on. My role was to advise him on how to deal with the Access Products and also the router products he had picked up. There was immediately a problem with the rest of Tellabs. They had no idea what to do with a person that was (in the Telecom Equipment world) a public figure. I had relationships with the Trade Press, Industry Analysts, and Financial Analysts. Tellabs wanted me to completely stop talking to all those people. My favorite episode of this was Supercomm 05. I had people stop by to say "Hi." The Marketing and PR types would then drop out of the sky to yell at me about talking to people that I had spent 5 years building relationships with. This turned out to be a symptom but we will get to that.

From a product standpoint, lots of changes happened immediately. Tellabs cancelled the GPON development that we had ongoing. We were building a proof of concept similar to what we had done with BPON, but Tellabs wanted to focus on BPON. Same thing happened to our Next Generation Platform. We were in the early days of building an Ethernet Switch based product, and it was immediately cancelled. Our IOC release was greatly curtailed, with really only the Gigabit Ethernet Interface (part of the BPON RFP) continuing. I used to hear that AFC abandoned the IOCs, but I can tell you it was Tellabs that killed any ongoing Development activity.

The other thing that happened was that Tellabs finally came back and affirmed the decision that we had already taken at AFC to discontinue the Teliant (the product we had bought from AccessLAN). We had 75 customers but we thought we could replace the bulk of the applications with the former Vivace product from Tellabs. This took longer than we wanted but we got it done over time.

Talk about your focus. We went from 8 people at the end of 03 working on BPON to 200 by the end of 04. Tellabs had already decided to buy Vinci Systems for its ONT portfolio. The best thing that came from this focus was a release that fixed the vast bulk of the initial issues with Verizon. There were still plenty of challenges but the flood gates to deployment opened. The results of this focus from this standpoint were excellent. The other ones are yet to come.

Jim Sackman
FocalPoint Business Coaching
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