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MBC Deploys Cyan SDN for Backhaul Rollout

Mitch Wagner
5/14/2014
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Mid Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp., a wholesale open-access network transport provider, is using Cyan technology to provision backhaul connections to a greater number of mobile cell sites at a reduced cost compared with its previous solution.

MBC is a non-profit operation launched with government funds in 2004, with the mission of bringing rural Virginia online. It does this by leasing fiber to communications service providers that, in turn, provide connectivity to attract businesses and foster economic growth in under-served communities.

"What we find is that the Cyan platform allows us to lower the capex, reach more cell sites and tower sites, and get more business customers online," says Tad Deriso, MBC President and CEO.

MBC decided to use Cyan Inc. 's Blue Planet SDN Software, along with the vendor's Z-Series Packet-Optical Platform. MBC had a SONET/TDM transport network, which it needed to scale to provide mobile backhaul, easy network operation, and configure third-party devices.

MBC also wanted to prepare the network for next-generation carrier Ethernet: Cyan helps achieve that goal through its compliance with the MEF Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (MEF CE 2.0) initiative.

Because SMB is an open access provider, multiple carriers use its network -- some competing with each other -- and it needs a Layer 2 solution that would not expose customers' VLAN traffic.

MBC initially used the Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) 6500 system, which was fine when MBC was focused on delivering Ethernet services, but became problematic as MBC started rolling out cellular backhaul. Initially, a few T1s could serve each tower. But later, carriers needed 50Mbit/s and 100Mbit/s connections. SONET overhead meant a 50Mbit/s SONET connection actually delivered only 47 Mbit/s. Ciena needed to deliver a new box to upgrade, and the cost outweighed the benefit. So MBC turned to Cyan after meeting a representative of the company at a panel in Miami, Deriso says.

MBC was impressed by Cyan's claim that it could use SDN to provision through multiple vendors' equipment. "We were skeptical about that claim and thought no way it would work. But sure enough it worked," Deriso says. "We were tickled pink with how it performed."[Editor's note: Can we get a picture of that?]

Cyan's technology was cost-effective to deploy and easy to manage and maintain -- a big issue for MBC, which has only 15 local employees to operate 70 cell sites. Cyan's technology is deployed at 50 of those locations, and MBC is continuing to roll it out.

MBC spent $450,000 on the Cyan technology: It generates about $8 million in annual revenues and has a capital budget of $2 million per year.

MBC has also been working with Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) on a trial to deliver multiple-terabit capacity. (See MBC Completes Multi-Terabit Trial with Infinera.)

Deriso spoke at some length about MBC's business: Light Reading will cover that separately.

For more about Cyan, see:

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to mwagner@lightreading.com.

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