Comcast Shows Backbone on Interoperability
BroadBananas Michael Harris 12/14/2005
Who can make powerful competitive vendors play nice on interoperability? Big customers that demand it. And that's just what Comcast did in doling out its backbone infrastructure business to Cisco Systems and Nortel this week and publicly launching what it calls an Open Transport Initiative (OTI). Comcast is building a leading-edge integrated IP optical backbone to transport all of its services -- analog and digital video, high-speed Internet, digital voice and business communications -- across the MSO's 35-state territory. At the optical layer, Comcast selected Nortel's DWDM solution, including the Nortel Common Photonic Layer (CPL) and Optical Multiservice Edge (OME) 6500 platforms. A full suite of implementation, integration and support services are part of the deal too. However, at the IP layer, Comcast picked Cisco's CRS-1 Carrier Routing System, which is delivering interoperable DWDM interfaces from 10Gbps to 40Gbps. "Comcast's and Cisco's shared vision of integrated 10Gbps and 40Gbps DWDM interfaces was one of the key reasons for our selection of the CRS-1," said Vik Saxena, Comcast Director of IP Architecture. Specifically, the interfaces include a one-port 40 gigabit per second (Gbps) tunable DWDM Packet-over-SONET (POS) interface, as well as a four-port 10 Gbps Gigabit Ethernet Tunable DWDM PHY interface with SONET/SDH-like Operations, Administration, Maintenance and Provisioning (OAM&P). Both interfaces support enhanced integrated Forward Error Correction (FEC), a key Comcast requirement, which Cisco says delivers 'up to a 5X increase in reach and 50 percent reduction in optics.' Cisco has been aggressively positioning its CRS-1 core routing platform as an essential element in its Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network (IP NGN) solution, Cisco's architecture for supporting both IMS and non-IMS based services. Comcast's CRS-1 selection may mode well for Cisco's IP NGN traction in cable. Particularly since Sprint is a key Cisco customer, the very mobile carrier that Comcast, Time Warner and other MSOs have tapped as their partner for fixed mobile convergence (FMC) services.