Carrier Channel: The Incredible Shrinking Network

Posted: 9/2003

The Incredible Shrinking Network
By Khali Henderson

The idea of mapping IP onto SONET is
not new, harkening back to 1999s introduction of next-generation SONET
equipment. The rollout and adoption of products that allow providers to collapse
their networks is gathering steam, particularly among incumbents with legacy
SONET networks. For carriers, this means a reduction in costs while efficiently
adding advanced data transport capability.

Most of the industry buzz is about Ethernet edge switches,
says Robert Rosenberg, president of Insight Research Corp. But with the RBOCs
in the drivers seat, SONET is getting a makeover. We anticipate that [wave
division multiplexing] technology will be deployed in conjunction with next-gen
SONET, making it possible to add transport capacity to the metro ring without
disrupting current operations. This type of non-disruptive upgrade strategy is
favored by the RBOCs and it will drive the marketplace.

Insight Research released statistics in August that indicate
phone companies will invest almost $64 billion over the next five years in
next-generation SONET add-drop multiplexers (ADMs) in an effort to keep pace
with continuing demand for data services.

Image: Extending the Life of SONET Networks

KMI Research analyst Michael Arden notes next-gen SONET and
SDH will continue to build on its momentum since being introduced in 1999. Within the various optical networking equipment categories,
next-gen SONET and SDH will have the strongest compound annual growth, averaging
17 percent from 2002 to 2007, according to the latest KMI Research statistics
published in mid-July.

Next-gen SONET is based on traditional SONET technology, but
can use multiple service platforms and transmit data at variable speeds, unlike
a traditional SONET box that has a fixed protocol and speed, according to
analysts at KMI Research. For example, a 10mbps Ethernet service run over SONET
would need a full DS3 given SONETs fixed bandwidth of 51.84mbps wasting
most of the bandwidth.

Part of the challenge with existing SONET platforms is
running Ethernet, says Boyd Chastant, senior product manager with carriers
carrier OnFiber Communications Inc. I can give it to them, but Ive stranded
overhead. Is that the best use of my resources? New platforms are able to
overcome that.

While OnFiber now maintains separate SONET, Ethernet and
wavelength networks, it is contemplating new ways to aggregate traffic, he says,
adding a decision is expected within the next six to 12 months.

KMI Research notes next-gen SONET boxes also have
cross-connect and aggregation functions and often are used as gateways to DWDM
backbone networks.

Effectively, next-gen SONET platforms allow for multiservice
provisioning and commonly are called multiservice provisioning platforms
(MSPPs). Today, carriers deploy separate pieces of equipment for each service
type optical circuits, gigabit Ethernet, FibreChannel, etc. With an MSPP,
like CIENA Corp.s new ONLINE Metro Service Aggregator for SONET/SDH, carriers
can provide all these services from a common platform over a single network,
resulting in savings of power, space and equipment sparing. While carriers
traditionally use several types of equipment to aggregate and multiplex TDM,
packet and SAN services, the Metro SA replaces these legacy boxes with a single
module (card).

Tom Mock, senior vice president-Solutions Group for CIENA,
says the companys service aggregator blends in more Layer 2 functions like
Ethernet switching as opposed to just carrying the protocol.

Metro SA was introduced at SUPERCOMM this summer along with a
slew of similar offers. Tellabs, for example, unveiled the Tellabs 7120 NGX,
which enables service providers to offer a variety of SONET and Ethernet data
services such as SONET OC3 through OC192, DS1 through DS3, Ethernet and CWDM. It
can be used in SONET transport, access ring, interoffice ring, OC192 and OC48
multiplexing and Ethernet-over-SONET transport applications. The transport node
is in use with three customers, the company says.

Also at SUPERCOMM, ADTRAN showed its Total Access OPTI-MX, a
multiservice SONET fiber mux that supports 10/100 Ethernet, DS3s, DS1s, OC3s and
STS1s. Telco Systems also introduced the EdgeLink OTM1000CPC, a CPE SONET
terminal mux that allows service providers to optically deliver a combination of
traditional T1 and T3 services and Ethernet services to their customers
demarcation points.

Probably the biggest news in support of the MSPP strategy is
BellSouths contract awards to Lucent Technologies Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.
for the Lucents DMX Access Multiplexer and Cisco ONS 15454 Multiservice
Provisioning Platform, respectively. MSPP will enable BellSouth to cost
effectively manage both traditional time division multiplexed (TDM) and new
packet-based services over a common, fully redundant infrastructure, said
Bill Smith, chief product development and technology officer for BellSouth. MSPP
platform will also enable BellSouth to offer cutting edge solutions over a
next-generation SONET infrastructure while adding protected carrier-class
reliability to Ethernet and other emerging transport options.

He adds, the upgrade to next-generation SONET is a key
milestone in BellSouths aggressive strategy to deploy a flexible, high-speed
optical infrastructure and increase the optical processing capabilities of our
network. Also, as part of this upgrade plan, BellSouth earlier had migrated
to MPLS at its network core and edge, enabling enhanced IP capabilities.

The economic merits of a next-generation SONET strategy are
compelling. Research from Yankee Group, shows capital expenditure savings of
between 30 percent and 70 percent. The firm says next-gen equipment also makes
better use of fiber plant with DWDM networks. As bandwidth demand increases or
equipment becomes obsolete in metropolitan networks, service providers will be
purchasing next-generation SONET/SDH equipment in order to save initial costs,
long-term expenses, power and space, the firm notes.

BellSouth Corp.
Cisco Systems Inc.
Insight Research Corp.

KMI Research
Lucent Technologies Inc.
OnFiber Communications Inc.
The Yankee Group Inc.

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