Zhone's tiny WDM access platform is said to pack a punch by provisioning five channels in a 1RU box

April 30, 2007

3 Min Read
Zhone Flaunts FiberSLAM

Zhone Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ZHNE) today introduced a very small form factor hybrid Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) access platform to help carriers cheaply provide broadband connectivity to enterprises, business parks, remote enclosures, or wireless backhaul aggregation sites. (See Zhone Intros FiberSLAM.)

Zhone's new FiberSLAM products integrate coarse and dense WDM with time division multiplexing (TDM) functionality in a single 1RU (rack unit) box.

The platform was designed to capitalize on the growing bandwidth needs of carriers as they push more data-centric traffic over their (legacy) networks, and to provide a migration path from existing Sonet to Ethernet transport services.

The FiberSLAM platform comes in two flavors, the FS101 and FS105, which support either a single channel or five dedicated wavelength channels, respectively.

The platform provides targeted bandwidth for high-capacity services, supporting 2x Gigabit Ethernet and 2x 10/100 ports for Ethernet expansion. The product's TDM interface supports 16 T1/E1 and three DS3/E3 channels.

Zhone believes the platform will ease the transition from TDM-based networks to those based on Ethernet. As bandwidth demands continue to grow, Zhone optical networking product manager Chris Garcia says that "Ethernet will soon become the preferred transport technology."

"Fixed-bandwidth architectures can't scale to support next-generation services such as IPTV or HDTV," Garcia says. "Carriers need an architecture at a low cost that supports flexibility and scaleability."

Jason Marcheck, principal analyst of optical infrastructure at Current Analysis , says the FiberSLAM platform is "very unique in that it is a very small WDM platform."

Zhone isn't alone in providing 1RU access platforms, however. ECI Telecom Ltd. , Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), and others have recently announced small form factor multiservice provisioning platforms (MSPPs) aimed at bringing network intelligence to the edge. (See ECI Unveils Small MSPP, Tellabs Gets Tiny With New MSPP, and Micro MSPPs Are Big.)

Zhone says the FiberSLAM platform provides much greater bandwidth scaleability than traditional MSPPs or edge access products by focusing on wavelength expansion capabilities. Marcheck says the key differentiator between Zhone's product and that of competitors is "other existing platforms only provision one wavelength," while "Zhone's platform can provision five channels" at a time.

Garcia says Zhone's customers don’t always want the newest technology, and that many of them are still trying to manage existing assets while moving to IP or Ethernet. The FiberSLAM platform, he says, "allows customers to meet their current needs while allowing them to upgrade in the future."

Teresa Mastrangelo, principal analyst at broadbandtrends.com, says the FiberSLAM platform will be targeted at MSOs, carriers looking to extend wireless backhaul networks, or "anybody who has a fiber network and is looking to support both legacy and Ethernet services."

Marcheck believes that "the MSOs will probably be the first candidates to buy the FiberSLAM," because they will be deploying HDTV, video on demand, and other high-bandwidth services.

Zhone says the FiberSLAM platform has been trialed by two customers. It was tested and purchased by Central Texas Communications Inc. to provide wireless backhaul services. Zhone is also in trials with Eastern European operator Voljatel.

Zhone says the FiberSLAM platform will become commercially available at the end of May.

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

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