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Somera Communications


doesn't like to be called the repo-man of the networking industry -- the company prefers the more genteel "de-installer" -- but a good portion of its business involves the resale of equipment that the original buyers couldn't pay for.

And you thought there wasn't anything good coming from the telecom woes of 2001. One telecom company's bust is another company's boom.

Somera, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based communications equipment seller, is one of a very few vendors that deals in new and used gear, with 57% of its 2000 business coming from used gear sales. The jewel of that current inventory is the OC-192 card, practically the networking equivalent of newly gilded shortstop Alex Rodriguez's rookie card.

OC-192, also known as 10-gigabit, is one of the ultimate components in networks being built today.



rode to great fortunes on the development of this technology, which connects optical fiber to transport and switching gear, allowing Internet traffic to speed along at a blinding 10 billion bits of information per second.



, for example, started selling the industry's first 10-gigabit router last year and has used that advantage to help win over a third of



core router business. Beaten up, perhaps, but not beaten down, Cisco last week staged a

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Hollywood introduction of its new competing 10-gig router.

So how does Somera get its hands on this most coveted of devices? A Somera salesman who spoke with

wouldn't divulge that, nor did he want his name used in a story, but he left a voice-mail message confirming the 10-gig card's availability.

Shin Umeda, optical component analyst with the

Dell'oro Group

was more than a little surprised to hear that preowned OC-192 cards, valued as high as $50,000 new, are being sold. Lots of stuff finds its way to the used market but "it is usually the symptom of a demand and supply issue; either there is a real scarcity or a surplus," he says.

This might not be good news for Nortel, the world's largest supplier of 10-gig devices. Some of Nortel's customers,






, in particular, hoarded optical gear last fall for fear of not getting enough. Some of that stash could be what Somera has available.

Then there's that less genteel scenario again -- the one in which cash-strapped phone and Internet service providers may have missed their equipment payments and Somera comes in to do some de-installing.