ATM Key to Bringing Intelligence to Edge
By Peter Lambert and Paula Bernier
Intelligent access now may be winning as the service provider networking buzzphrase of
the 1990s, judging by the new products–and the emerging new classes of products–touted
during the SUPERCOMM ’99 exhibition in Atlanta. The goal of the new gear: build an access
device at the service provider-customer boundary intelligent enough to manage every kind
of service for every customer over one pipe.
While the majority of technology providers agree that service provider access networks
must continue to accommodate an alphabet soup of connection protocols, an increasingly
important role for asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) switching and multiplexing provided a
subtext for many a SUPERCOMM announcement.
Indeed, multiple categories of new products emphasize the first-time integration of ATM
technologies. Among the ATM-driven product and partnership announcements:
* A new class of "data-aware" fiber optic gear from ADC Telecommunications
Inc., Minneapolis; Atmosphere Networks Inc., Cupertino, Calif.; and Omnia Communications
Inc., Marlborough, Mass., that combines ATM service management with synchronous optical
network (SONET) connectivity.
* Demonstrations of "class-independent," computer server-based telephony
switches designed to complement, and eventually replace, legacy Class 5 and Class 4 time
division multiplexing (TDM) telephony switches with ATM switching.
* The debut of the ATM Local Telephony Alliance (www.altainfo.org), a group of six
manufacturers (Advanced Switching Communications Inc., Vienna, Va.; Convergent Networks
Inc., Tewksbury, Mass.; Mariposa Technology Inc., Petaluma, Calif.; Siemens AG independent
subsidiary Unisphere Solutions Inc., Burlington, Mass.; VINA Technologies Inc., Fremont,
Calif.; and Woodwind Communication Systems Inc., Frederick, Md.) and one competitive local
exchange carrier (CLEC) (2nd Century Communications Inc., Tampa, Fla.) formed to shepherd
development of uniform standards and practices for local ATM-based voice switching.
* Proliferation of a new class of customer-located integrated access devices (IADs) and
central office (CO) multiservice switches employing ATM quality of service (QoS) and
service multiplexing functions from Cisco Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif.; Lucent
Technologies Inc., Murray Hill, N.J.; Newbridge Networks Corp., Herndon, Va.; Nortel
Networks, Richardson, Texas; and other manufacturers.
* Introduction of ATM adaptation layer 2 (AAL-2) voice-compression technology to
maximize efficiency of multiline, packetized voice transport over digital subscriber line
(DSL) and other broadband access media.