Friday, October 30, 2009

Telstra Trials 100G With Nortel

Telstra Corp. (Pink Sheets: TLSYY) is the latest major network operator to conduct 100-Gbit/s optical transmission trials with equipment from Nortel Networks Ltd. 's Metro Ethernet Networks (MEN) division, which is currently up for sale.

And the Australian national carrier is claiming some world firsts from the tests. Telstra says it trialed 100-Gbit/s transmission over a continuous optical link between Sydney and Adelaide of 2,038 kilometers and tested 40-Gbit/s transmission across a 3,370 kilometer looped-back section of its fiber network between the two cities -- "the longest distances ever attempted," according to the carrier.

Both trials used Nortel DWDM gear to "enable unregenerated transmission on Telstra's underlying optical fibre infrastructure" during a two-week period in July.

The trials "demonstrate that our existing network is capable of transporting even larger amounts of network traffic without incurring the cost of major equipment and infrastructure upgrades," noted Michael Rocca, the carrier's Networks and Services Group managing director, in Telstra's news release. "Carriers the world over are looking for the next generation of transmission technology because customer bandwidth needs are quickly surpassing current limits."

The carrier noted it has experienced a tenfold increase in traffic on its major, intercity, long-haul routes, and plans to upgrade its Sydney-to-Melbourne link from 10 Gbit/s to 40 Gbit/s in the near future. Telstra notes that larger volumes of higher-quality online video and enterprise applications such as videoconferencing are two of the main drivers behind the need to increase network capacity.

Nortel's regional VP of Carrier Networks, Anthony McLachlan, took a swipe at Nortel's next-generation optical equipment rivals by noting that "Telstra has given us the opportunity to prove in a real network what others are only talking about."

The trial is another significant 100-Gbit/s reference for Nortel's MEN division, which has already engaged in multiple carrier trials in Europe and North America with operators of all sizes and types, including Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), cable operator Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Neos Networks , and SURFnet . (See Verizon Adds Nortel to Its 100G Club, Europe's Hot 100G Action, Banverket Picks Nortel 40/100G, Neos, Nortel Try 100G, SURFnet Lights Live 100G Path, and Comcast, Nortel Put 100G to the Test .)

The vendor has also had notable success with its 40-Gbit/s platform and is the market leader, according to Dell'Oro Group . (See Lightower Turns Up Nortel's 40G and Nortel Claims 40G Lead.)

Despite these successes, and the operating profits that it generates, Nortel's MEN division has failed to attract a buyer, though various companies are believed to have considered bidding. (See Tellabs CEO: We Don't Dig MEN and Who's Waving Their Wad at Nortel’s MEN?)

And among the companies linked to a potential move for Nortel's optical assets are some of those challenging Nortel in the race to land commercial 100-Gbit/s system orders. (See Ciena Sending 100GE Live, ADVA Demos 100G, Deutsche Telekom Trials 100G, Global Access Demos 100GigE, 100GigE Scorecard, and Huawei Touts 100 GigE.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Supercomm: Ethernet Peering Gets Closer

CHICAGO -- Supercomm 2009 -- The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) 's efforts on Ethernet peering is making progress, with key network-to-network interface (NNI) specifications possibly coming out in just a few months.

"We'll know more at the end of next week, but it could be February," says Kevin Vachon, the MEF's chief operating officer. ("Next week" refers to a scheduled MEF meeting the week of Oct. 26.)

The NNI is an important element in what the MEF is calling its Global Interconnect initiative. The idea is to provide a common framework for operators to put Ethernet services onto one another's networks, which helps improve the reach of those services.

That could lead to the creation of Ethernet peering points, exchanges similar to those that exist for Internet services. Equinix announced the first such Ethernet exchange earlier this month. (See Equinix Offers Global Ethernet Peering .)

Last October, MEF president Nan Chen started talking about Global Interconnect as the next phase in Carrier Ethernet development. Whether Chen himself is working on the concept with his CENX startup is still unknown (and come to think of it, he owes us a call back!). (See MEF Touts Phase 3, MEF Peers Consider Ethernet Exchange, and Nan Chen Takes CENX Route.)

The MEF wants to work quickly here, because carriers are working up their own network-interface agreements every time they want their traffic to ride on another provider's network. The MEF doesn't want too many of these proprietary deals to stack up before it comes out with a standard NNI, Vachon says.

On the other hand, Global Interconnect requires more than just a quick-sketch standard.

"What we didn't want to do is just throw more specifications at the industry," Vachon says. "We want to go to the industry with a plan: Here are our recommendations for interconnect; here are the pieces you need to take under consideration."

Another facet of the MEF's Global Interconnect initiative is the defining of Ethernet classes of service. That was accomplished on a basic level with the recently created MEF 23 standard for three classes of service; the next step will be to assign values to various classes, making it easier to apply them to wholesaling deals.

A third element to Global Interconnect would be carrier-grade operations, administration, and management (OAM), which the MEF has also worked on.