BT Goes Live With PBT

BT still has some hoops to jump through before it can deploy PBT in the UK, but it has turned it on in mainland Europe

September 27, 2007

3 Min Read
BT Goes Live With PBT

GENEVA -- Carrier Ethernet World Congress -- BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is forging ahead with its plans to deploy controversial Ethernet technology PBT (Provider Backbone Transport), but the carrier has technical evaluations to complete and regulatory clearance to attain before it can install and turn on the technology in its domestic market. (See PBT: New Kid on the Metro Block.)

In the meantime, BT, PBT's main carrier supporter, has deployed the technology in continental Europe where it doesn't have the same multi-vendor deployment or regulatory issues. (See BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT, BT Likes Nortel's New Ethernet Flavor, and PBT Means What?)

Talking to Light Reading here in Geneva, BT's Head of 21CN Solutions Strategy, Tim Hubbard, says the carrier's U.K. feasibility study, involving all of the carrier's main 21CN infrastructure providers, will be completed this week. That will show the carrier what it needs to do to ensure interoperability between the PBT-enabled Ethernet switches it plans to deploy from Nortel Networks Ltd. and Nokia Networks and the metro equipment from its other MPLS-based metro equipment suppliers such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). (See Nortel, Siemens Win PBT Deals at BT.)

That's a tricky task, given that PBT is not yet a standards-based technology, but a task that's definitely achievable, as test lab European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) showed here in Geneva this week with its multi-vendor Ethernet/MPLS interoperability showcase. (See EANTC Preps MEF Demo, Extreme Tests PBT, Juniper Demos Ethernet, and RAD Plays Ethernet Test Role.)

Once BT knows exactly how it will deploy PBT, which it already plans to do to support a mobile backhaul service announced in the U.K., it needs to get regulatory approval for its plans from the Ofcom , because BT plans to use PBT tunnels to backhaul services such as voice and broadband, which are also provisioned by competitive carriers across BT's physical infrastructure, from the edge of the network into its metro core. (See BT Sells PBT-Based Backhaul Service.)

Ofcom needs to be satisfied that BT can transport those services in a secure way for its wholesale customers, but the regulator is believed to be happy with the way services can be encapsulated in PBT tunnels for secure wholesale backhaul.

Once Ofcom has approved BT's use of the technology for these services, BT then has to take its plans through a consultation process with its wholesale customers -- so it could be a significant number of months before PBT is actively deployed in BT's network in the U.K.

But BT faces no such restrictions in international markets, and its BT Global Services division has already deployed Nortel PBT-enabled Ethernet switches in Italy to provision point-to-point services for its enterprise customers and for service aggregation, says Hubbard. (See BT Lands Italian Job.)

Once PBT has been in use and evaluated in Italy, Hubbard says the carrier will look at the possibilities of deploying the technology in other European markets, including Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to The Future of Carrier Ethernet: Eastern Europe 2007, a conference focused on the evolution of Ethernet as the technology of choice for enabling next-gen services in telecom networks. To be staged in Warsaw, Poland, November 27, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

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