4:30 PM -- The European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) interoperability tests featured at last week's MPLS & Ethernet World Congress 2009 omitted one major element compared with last year: Provider Backbone Transport (PBT, or PBB-TE).

EANTC did set up a 15-vendor MPLS interoperability test, as well as a small MPLS-TP (transport profile) one. (See Checking Out MPLS-TP .)

But no PBB-TE. Any particular reason?

"We say whoever brings whatever aggregation technology, we will look into it," says Carsten Rossenhövel, EANTC managing director. "There were actually no PBT vendors signed up this time."

OK. That's a good reason.

PBB-TE isn't dead, but there's evidence the buzz isn't as lively as it was last year. The last six months, in particular, have been pretty quiet, says Dan Joe Barry, sales marketing manager for Tpack A/S .

One reason might be that the curiosity factor has faded. The bigger trend right now is "everyone waiting to see what's happening with MPLS-TP," Barry says.

On a more obvious front, Nortel Networks Ltd. , the PBB-TE crusader, has been busy with other stuff. (See Nortel Files for Bankruptcy Protection.) And its star PBB-TE customer, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), changed course last May after a shift in management. (See PBT Sidelined at BT, Nortel: There's More to PBT Than BT, and BT Exec Exit.)

As late as this fall, though, PBB-TE was showing signs of life. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) announced plans for the technology, and a Colt Technology Services Group Ltd executive noted PBB-TE's potential for wireless backhaul. (See PBT: Alive 'n' Kicking and Sprint Joins PBT Club.)

MPLS and MPLS-TP have the advantage of some big-name backers, though, including Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR).

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

SimonParry 12/5/2012 | 4:11:35 PM
re: EANTC Skips PBB-TE Hi Craig,

I note that EANTC didn't run tests on VLAN tags either. Why is this relevant? Well PBB-TE is now a standard, just like VLAN tagging, and since it came from the IEEE it just works. Why not ask Carsten how long the PBB-TE interop took to set up for CEWC, compared to the length of time it took to get the MPLS interop going?

There is no point in repeating interop testing if it just works. There is a great deal of benefit for the MPLS guys to keep trying until they get FRR working between vendors. And as for MPLS-TP, it is notable that no two vendors agree what it is yet, so I expect to see many years of interop demos.
davallan 12/5/2012 | 4:11:34 PM
re: EANTC Skips PBB-TE Seems to me the question should not be "why is PBB-TE done?" it "should be why isn't MPLS?".

If there is MPLS interop required, it should be well into the more arcane aspects of the some 80 RFCs and WG drafts by now....not "can you swap labels...?"
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:11:32 PM
re: EANTC Skips PBB-TE That's a good point, Simon. And I think it's partly what Tpack was getting at when they mentioned that the discussion (meaning the questions and the unsettled issues) is mostly focused on MPLS-TP right now.
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