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July 2, 2001
LuxN Inc., which makes optical transport products for the access network, is now moving deeper into the metro network with a product that can help connect regional fiber rings.
Today the company announced the WS 6400, a product that combines both optical transport and wavelength switching in one device. It will be showcased next week at NFOEC in Baltimore.
“This is a major step forward for the company,” says Grier Hansen, optical and carrier infrastructure analyst for Current Analysis. “It gives them a solution set that is more than just a series of transport products. It adds intelligence, which they never had before, opening up a whole new market for them.”
As the name suggests, the WS 6400 is a twofold improvement over its predecessor the WS 3200, offering 64 wavelengths over a single fiber pair in one shelf versus 32 wavelengths. This by itself is a big deal, considering that other companies like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS) offer 32 wavelengths per shelf, says Hansen. “ONI is at the top of the market in terms of density, and they aren’t talking about 64 wavelengths per shelf."
But unlike the WS 3200, which is strictly a point-to-point DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) transport product, the WS 6400 combines DWDM transport with lambda switching. This means that service providers can use the product to connect two different fiber rings in a regional area or to create a meshed network connecting several fiber rings together.
Hansen says that in order for service providers to generate revenue over their optical infrastructures, intelligent switching is needed. Right now, equipment companies are taking different approaches for providing the switching portion. For instance, Cisco and Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) use two separate boxes: one for transport and one for switching. Others, like ONI, only offer the transport piece of the puzzle without the switching part.
But there are other companies that are working to combine intelligent switching and optical transport in a single metro platform. Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), for example, is working on such a product. And a few startups, like Village Networks Inc., Movaz Networks Inc., and Atoga Systems, are developing products that combine optical transport, wavelength switching, and IP routing. But Hansen says he sees service providers deploying something like the WS 6400 before they would deploy a product with all three functions.
“Routing is a hard science,” he says. “You have to test the software separately, and there are few people who are really good at routing technology. For a startup it could be going a little far. I think taking incremental steps isn’t a bad idea.”
While collapsing the switching and transport functions into one box could reduce upfront capital costs and reduce the complexity of the network, in the carrier world, switching and transport functions are controlled by separate groups. This means a longer sales cycle, as LuxN has to convince not one group of engineers to buy the product, but two, says Hansen.
The 320-Gbit/s capacity switch is being rolled out in phases. In the first phase, which will go into beta tests in the third quarter of 2001, the product will offer an electrical switch fabric that will support 64 lambdas and OC48 (2.488 Gbit/s) interfaces with a reach up to 300 kilometers. The company says the system can scale by cascading boxes together to form a 128x128 switch fabric.
In the second phase, which is expected to beta trial the second half of 2001, it will support OC192 (10 Gbit/s) interfaces and will allow 10-Gbit/s transmission up to 40 kilometers without amplification. For 2.5 Gbit/s traffic, it will transmit up to 80 to 90 kilometers without amplification and 600 to 1,000 kilometers with amplification.
The third phase of the product launch will include 10-Gbit/s Ethernet interfaces. Agnes Imregh, vice president of marketing for LuxN, says the company will wait for standards to be finalized before it releases commercial 10-Gig Ethernet interfaces. She expects this to happen the first half of 2002.
- Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
For more information on NFOEC, please visit the Light Reading NFOEC Site.
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