HR Sees B-RAS Role Expanding

A recent Heavy Reading report says the broadband remote access server may take on new tasks in triple-play networks

December 16, 2005

3 Min Read
HR Sees B-RAS Role Expanding

As broadband edge architectures evolve to deliver higher-bandwidth services, the broadband remote access server (B-RAS) will change in scope, function, and network placement. (See Rethinking B-RAS in an IPTV World? and Video May Drive the IP Star.)

In fact, the whole B-RAS product category is morphing into a new type of device: the broadband service switch router, or BSSR. (See Redback Boasts Report Ranking.)

That’s one of the key findings of a recent Heavy Reading report, "IP Video and the New Broadband Edge."

The core functionality of the B-RAS is as important as ever, but new capabilities are finding their way into the device, says Heavy Reading analyst Rick Thompson in the report.

“Next-gen broadband edge networks, optimized for services beyond high-speed data, are incorporating newer BSSR architectures that, in many cases, consolidate aggregation switching, edge routing, and B-RAS functionality,” Thompson writes. (See Routers Answer IPTV Call.) “Depending on the specific vendor, these functions may be consolidated in one physical box or split between multiple boxes, still yielding a BSSR-based network architecture.”

As video is introduced, the amount of broadband that will have to be delivered to each subscriber will grow considerably. So the B-RAS and IP edge routing tasks performed at the edge of the network now must include a good deal of intelligent policy management and enforcement in order to maintain QOS levels, Thompson observes.

More generally, the new Heavy Reading report assesses the new requirements high-bandwidth triple-play services may place on the edge network architectures of telcos, and examines the implications for equipment vendors.

IPTV is clearly the application for which network operators are preparing today. (See Will IPTV Bloom in 2006?.) But Thompson believes IPTV isn’t being deployed so quickly that vendors won’t have time to adapt their products to the new look of access networks. (See Verizon's Elby: IPTV Could Take Years.)

“Actually service rollouts are still sporadic,” Thompson says of IPTV’s progress. “As a result, vendors that need to catch up from a technology perspective have a brief chance to react to the market as new product requirements are identified.”

The report also points out that IPTV will not be the only application shaping access networks in the years to come. As the converged and blended services promised by IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) -- many of which don’t involve video -- begin coming to fruition, networks will naturally evolve to position resources for their optimum delivery. In the IMS framework, IPTV is seen as just one item on a long menu of IP services. (See Crunch Time for IMS.)

“The definition of a subscriber, how to manage that subscriber over multiple access technologies (wireline and wireless), and which services to deliver to which devices, will be crucial developments for this market segment,” Thompson writes.

The report takes an in-depth look at the products and development roadmaps of the leading B-RAS vendors. These include Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), ECI Telecom Ltd. (Nasdaq: ECIL), Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK), and Riverstone Networks Inc. (OTC: RSTN.PK).

For more information on this report, please click here.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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