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Routing

Charlotte's Web Weaves In TDM

ATLANTA--Bigger. Faster. Smarter. For the last couple of years that's been the standard product pitch from terabit router vendors.

Charlotte's Web Networks http://www.cwnt.com, a newcomer to the market, has a different shtick. Instead of building just another buff box, it's developed a switch fabric for its Aranea terabit router that handles both IP data and traditional TDM traffic.

Combining both functions into a single box will allow carriers to eliminate telco equipment such as cross-connects and transmit voice and data traffic over the same core infrastructure, claims the vendor. This would allow carriers like Qwest Communications Inc.http://www.qwest.com or Williams Communications Group http://www.williams.com that have an IP backbone to offer voice services as well.

"This could be significant for some types of carriers," says Raj Mehta, an analyst with Ryan Hankin Kent (RHK) http://www.rhk.com. "If it can really take out the cross-connect it has some validity. I haven't seen anything else this aggressive."

In an interview with Light Reading, Charlotte's Web explained how its product works for the first time.

Because the Aranea fabric is cell-based, a predictable, synchronized path can be established through the switch to carry traffic between TDM input and output ports, says the vendor. Essentially, a path is carved out within the fabric for the TDM traffic.

TDM may still be the first choice for voice traffic today, but some providers are also experimenting with voice over IP. Charlotte's Web says it can support those needs as well by using the same technology to support circuit emulation for IP voice traffic, thus guaranteeing acceptable levels of latency and jitter. This means that once voice packets are identified, they can be sent to an egress port specifically designated for high priority voice traffic.

There is a downside: carving up bandwidth to guarantee that voice traffic gets through with guaranteed latency can waste capacity.

Charlotte's Web will announce the availability of the TDM interfaces by the end of the summer and will have products ready for deployment in Q1 2001, it says.

by Marguerite Reardon, senior editor Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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