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Optical/IP

Alcatel Consolidates Metro Core

Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) today launched a new box aimed at helping carriers consolidate equipment in their central offices so they can keep pace with the rapid rollout of new services (see Alcatel Expands SDH MSPP Portfolio).

The Alcatel 1678 Metro Core Connect is modular in design, enabling carriers to combine the functions of digital crossconnects, add/drop multiplexers, and Ethernet switches in the same chassis. At present, each of these devices would be a separate box, and in many central offices, there's now rack upon rack of such boxes.

Alcatel's new product aims to replace a lot of this. It boasts incredible density -- 640 Gbit/s in a single 300 millimeter deep shelf according to Alcatel -- a figure so énorme as to be considered "a little fishy" by one analyst, who asked not to be identified.

Alcatel's PowerPoint presentation of its product shows the 1678 connecting "32 10 Gbit/s rings on 1 subrack", which would give it the same density as the Cisco 15600 from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). It would make it double the density of the product with which it bears the closest resemblance, the Optical Multiservice Edge (OME) 6500 from Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). (See Nortel Gets Edgy.)

It's also worth pointing out that the grooming switches from the likes of Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) have similar capacities to Alcatel's 1678. However, their initial costs are too high to address this market, according to Scott Clavenna, Chief Analyst of Heavy Reading, Light Reading's paid research service. "Multiservice provisioning platforms are designed to be much more modular," he says.

Another key point about the Alcatel 1678 is that it's got a Generalized MPLS (GMPLS) control plane, facilitating the automation of provisioning and automated protection switching. Carriers can make use of GMPLS in the 1678 because Alcatel has already implemented it in its network management system, according to Thomas Fuerst, VP of strategic marketing for Alcatel's fixed line communications group.

"We've developed the capacity to add GMPLS routing engines to existing network elements," says Fuerst, who says that a few Alcatel customers are already using GMPLS in their networks. It will also be used extensively in an optical network planned by Telefònica SA, Spain's incumbent carrier, he adds.

"I think the big point is that carriers are shifting their focus to the metro core now that the MSPP is fully entrenched," says Clavenna. "The MSSP (multiservice switching platform) is the glue that binds the metro with the core by creating a multiservice switching platform that combines digital crossconnects with Layer 2 switching."

"Job one is dense ring aggregation in the metro core. Job two is multiservice support from the SDH network. Job three is tying it all together with GMPLS."

— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading


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optical_leaders 12/5/2012 | 2:20:08 AM
re: Alcatel Consolidates Metro Core I think LR forgot to mention that Alcatel (and Cisco) are so late to market with a platform that will only be comparable to exisiting solutions....

Interesting how LR could justify that Lucent's LambdaUnite is deemed to expensive for metro-core applications....that is why it now leads the market in market share and primarily in the main applications in metro core - (multivendor) ring termination and integrated grooming/switching......
1236 12/5/2012 | 2:19:50 AM
re: Alcatel Consolidates Metro Core I have to agree with the previous poster. Lambda Unite is the exact product Alcatel is aiming at. They may claim that Ciena is what they are going after but it really is Lucent. Again we have "analysts" that don't knoe a thing about what they are looking at. I've seen (and created ) enough slideware in my time to know that this is smoke and mirrors.
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