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Integra Monitors Its Fiber With Ciena Tool

Dan O'Shea
5/13/2014
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Fiber network operator Integra, like many carriers, is moving to 100G in its long-haul routes, but the nature of its network map, which covers some pretty wide open spaces between Western US cities, presents some challenges.

A fiber cut, for example, can turn into an epic journey for the field technician sent to find it. "If there's a fiber cut, you have to drive out from one span to the next with a standalone OTDR [optical time-domain reflectometer], tap into the fiber, and if you don't find [the cut], then drive further out," says Michael Kozlowski, vice president of product and offer management at Integra Telecom Inc. .

"Eventually, you start looking for back hoes [industrial diggers], or the rodent of your choice, or other things that could have caused the damage. All of that takes time," he adds.

Fortunately, in its recent long-haul 100G deployment between Salt Lake City and Sacramento, Integra has been able to take advantage of the new PinPoint analytics capability in Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN)'s recent WaveLogic Photonics software release. PinPoint includes an OTDR tracing tool integrated into the network elements, allowing remote tracing of fiber loss events. (See Ciena Upgrades Integra Route with 100G and OFC: Ciena Smartens Up Photonic Layer.)

"If you can do intelligent OTDR traces from your network elements, there is less of a need to have standalone OTDRs out in the field," Kozlowski says. "You save a lot of time and money [especially on gas]. Capacity is almost like a commodity now, so if you can extend your ability to diagnose network issues, that might be where you can make a difference."

Anywhere Integra can save money will give it more to invest in expanding its growing network presence. In recent years, the regional carrier has been transforming itself from a carrier once dependent on buying capacity from others to one that is increasingly operating its own facilities. "We've really changed our operating nature, and as part of that we are looking for ways to not buy capacity from other carriers as we expand," Kozlowski says. (See Integra Telecom Upgrades Wholesale Efforts.)

The Salt Lake City-to-Sacramento route was the latest spoke in that effort, but also a very significant one, since it includes on and off ramps to Reno, Nev., and the San Francisco Bay Area, two places where Integra has expanded its metro network coverage and its marketing efforts. (See Integra Extends Its Fiber Into vXchnge's Santa Clara Data Center and Integra Beefs Up Data Center Footprint.)

"Last year, we expanded in the Bay Area, which is why we just did the long-haul route from Salt Lake City to Sacramento," Kozlowski says. "There are not many carriers that have that route, and we believe we are actually the only one with 100G into Reno."

Though Integra now has much of its long-haul network upgraded to 100G, another important span -- Salt Lake City to Las Vegas -- awaits its 100G boost. "We are getting pretty close to exhaust on that route, so we'll probably be moving to 100G in the next year or so."

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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