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PBB-TE Loses Favor in Packet-Optical

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto

A Heavy Reading survey of 15 packet-optical transport systems (P-OTS) vendors finds support faltering for Provider Backbone Bridging – Traffic Engineering (PBB-TE).

"There has been a marked swing among this community of vendors away from PBT/PBB-TE toward pre-standard MPLS-TP," analyst Simon Sherrington writes in the recent Heavy Reading Insider report, "Vendors Bet a Packet on Optical."

PBB-TE is by no means abandoned, but the numbers are rather clear. Of 15 vendors that listed plans for connection-oriented Ethernet, six said they support PBB-TE or will in the future. By contrast, all 15 supported MPLS-TP.

(A 16th vendor, Hitachi Communication Technologies America Inc. (Hitachi-CTA) , abstained from the vote, as it hasn't disclosed all details about its packet-optical transport. But Hitachi did tell Sherrington it plans to include MPLS-TP for supporting long-haul needs.)

Vendors from the PBB-TE camp have described their MPLS-TP support as a matter of giving choices to the carriers. But PBB-TE has lost some supporters -- notably Nortel Networks Ltd. and BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) -- while MPLS-TP overall has gained interest. (See Asia/Pacific Warms to MPLS-TP.)

The report surveys 16 vendors' P-OTS positioning and describes some of the reasoning behind P-OTS's popularity. (See 'Make Do & Mend' Attitude Delays Packet Optical Revolution and Insider: Packet Optical a Cost Cutter.)

The vendors included in the report include ADVA Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV) , Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), Cyan Optics Inc. , ECI Telecom Ltd. , Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. , Hitachi, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , MRV Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: MRVC), Nokia Networks , Nortel (although the products in question are now with Ciena), Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), Transmode Systems AB , UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI), and Xtera Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: XCOM)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Packet Optical Transport Evolution, a one-day conference for network operators building and planning next-generation optical networks and the services and applications that ride on these networks. To be staged in New York, May 19, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

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Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:37:26 PM
re: PBB-TE Loses Favor in Packet-Optical

How much of a value proposition does PBB-TE have left at this point, I wonder.  Vendors supporting it have no particular reason to stop, but it would seem like anything greenfield would have to go with MPLS-TP.

Sterling Perrin
Sterling Perrin,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 4:37:12 PM
re: PBB-TE Loses Favor in Packet-Optical
One advantage is that PBB-TE is a standard and MPLS-TP standardization is still a ways off - there's still some risk there for operators.
Also, some organizations do prefer PBB-TE over MPLS variants.

Sterling Perrin
Sterling Perrin,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 4:37:05 PM
re: PBB-TE Loses Favor in Packet-Optical

jps -

I moderated an operator panel at Ethernet Expo NY last year and two of the operators on that panel - Mzima and Lightower - both stated they use and prefer PBB-TE. Transport centric organizations may prefer PBB-TE, or transport groups within large organizations may prefer PBB-TE, while the IP group may prefer IP/MPLS. As with BT, the decision may hinge on which groups holds the power.


User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:37:05 PM
re: PBB-TE Loses Favor in Packet-Optical

"some organizations do prefer PBB-TE over MPLS variants."

Care to elaborate?

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:37:04 PM
re: PBB-TE Loses Favor in Packet-Optical

Interesting. I was recently attending Carrier Ethernet Europe in London and PBB-TE was barely mentioned. Unlike MPLS-TP.

My (admittedly limited) contacts with network operators also indicate a preference towards MPLS-TP.

Could we be witnessing the start of a trend here?

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