AlcaLu, Ciena Look Good for Verizon RFP
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has issued its request for proposals (RFP) for a new packet-optical transport system (P-OTS), but as expected, the system that best matches the specs is almost certainly out of the running.
That's because it comes from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , writes analyst Michael Genovese of Soleil Securities Group Inc. in a note issued this week.
Verizon's RFP details what it calls a long-haul optical transport platform (OTP). It's part of a planned optical architecture that uses reconfigurable optical add-drop mulitplexers (ROADMs) and the Optical Transport Network (OTN) standard for switching, saving core routers for the traffic that really needs routing. Verizon officials have publicly talked about the idea since March. (See Verizon Rethinks Long Haul and Packet Optical Transport Goes for the Long Haul.)
Genovese and Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perrin presented an overview of the optical market to Soleil's customers recently, with the Verizon RFP as a headline topic. Their conclusion is that once it starts shipping a 100Gbit/s interface, Huawei's OSN 8800 (a Leading Lights finalist) will have the closest fit to Verizon's specs. Perrin had come to a similar conclusion in May. (See Vendors Target the Packet-Optical Core.)
One tiny problem: "We believe Huawei has almost no chance of winning a major Verizon deal," Genovese notes.
While he doesn't specify the reasons, it's no secret that US government officials -- and, therefore, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon -- are reticent to put packet traffic on Huawei gear. (See US Gets Worried About Huawei .)
Based on what the Perrin/Genovese tag team is saying, here are some requirements for Verizon's OTP:
- It handles 80 channels of 100Gbit/s long-haul DWDM.
- It uses a multi-terabit Ethernet switching fabric.
- Wavelengths can go more than 1,000 km without regeneration.
- Sonet/SDH traffic gets handled by the Optical Transport Network (OTN) standard, with grooming down to the ODU-0 level (equivalent to 1 Gbit/s).
- The control plane must support a mesh architecture and run on standards such as the Automatically Switched Optical Network (ASON) and Generalized Multiprotocol Label Switching (GMPLS).
So, what fits the bill, if not Huawei? Genovese and Perrin like the Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) 1870 Transport Tera Switch and the Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) 5400. (See AlcaLu Joins the War for the Optical Core and Ciena Catches Packet/Optical Convergence Bug.)
Verizon will probably pick two sources, Genovese writes, and it's possible those two will duke it out for primary status. The systems also fit Verizon's timeframe, as they'd have all the required features, including 100Gbit/s interfaces, ready for trials by late 2011.
About that timeframe -- Verizon is saying it wants to commercially deploy the boxes in 2012, but Genovese thinks that's optimistic. (It'll be hard to get anything done that year anyway, with the world ending and all.) He's thinking the real OTP rampup might not happen until 2013.
Separately, Genovese notes that Verizon's new architecture isn't as anti-core-router as some have believed. "While there have been some studies suggesting up to a 60 percent reduction in core router ports with the OTP architecture, we believe this is overstated. Based on our industry conversations we think there could be up to a 10 percent to 15 percent reduction," he writes.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading