Atrica's Back-to-School Special
Cox selected the Fujitsu Flexible Architecture for Subscriber Service Termination (FASST), to deliver such services as Internet access, voice over IP (VOIP), IP/H.323 videoconferencing, and distance learning.
Fujitsu says the deal exemplifies a large and growing demand among healthcare, education, and government enterprises for carrier-grade Ethernet network solutions.
FASST was designed specifically to help service providers and enterprises migrate from older TDM-based services to newer IP-based services, says Fujitsu’s John Cupit, the principal product architect for FASST. NOPS faces academic challenges such as creating content-based curriculum and satisfying No Child Left Behind requirements, which are directly affected by the performance of its network. The school system’s old network was a “total overlay network” using CIR (committed information rate) based Frame Relay and, in some locations, HSD (high speed data) service, according to Cupit.
Cupit says Fujitsu began to work with Cox in early 2004 to help form an answer to the NOPS RFP, which stated a desire for a carrier Ethernet solution. After a highly competitive selection process, the school system accepted the FASST concept in December 2004 (see FNC Finds FASST Friends).
The deployment demonstrates Ethernet’s ability to address previously underserved markets with affordable, high-speed, triple-play solutions, says Heavy Reading senior analyst Stan Hubbard. “While we’ve heard a lot about how financial and healthcare companies are increasingly adopting carrier-grade Ethernet services, the education sector is emerging as a surprisingly strong opportunity for Ethernet service providers.
“You see that here with a whopping 140 sites to be connected; and we’ve heard this from other players like Verizon, which mentioned at December’s Light Reading Telecom Investment Conference that K-12 has been the big market driver for its Ethernet services, largely due to the attractiveness of running VOIP over Ethernet."
Fujitsu and Atrica have teamed to build 10 such networks in the U.S., only one of which (Cox/NOPS) has been announced. Neither partner would disclose the dollar value of the deal.
The new NOPS network uses Atrica’s A 8100 Optical Ethernet core switches at hub locations, A 4100 Optical Ethernet aggregation switches at aggregation sites, A 2100 Optical Ethernet edge switches to deliver services at each school or administration site, and Atrica’s service provisioning and management system to manage the entire network.
The scaleability of the 17-slot Atrica A-8100 chassis with 10-Gigabit Ethernet DWDM links was a key reason for the selection of the FASST solution for NOPS, says Paul Schowalter, network transport engineering manager for Cox Communications in New Orleans.
“While transporting potentially large flows of traffic across the network, transparency to the school network and honoring QOS markings from end-to-end were vitally important. Atrica’s Layer 2 transparency with MPLS bandwidth control and QOS mechanisms allowed us to build a high performance network that supports all the multimedia applications the school system will run across it,” Schowalter says in a Fujitsu release today.
Atrica, whose customers are mainly in Europe, hopes the NOPS network will serve as a proof-of-concept for its access products in U.S. enterprises, and an entrée to a wider North American presence. The NOPS deal is “the first announced customer opportunity in the U.S.," according to Atrica director of product marketing, Umesh Kukreja.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Atrica is now an approved vendor for all Cox Communications locations, Kukreja says. Atrica is privately held, and has, to date, raised $134 million in venture capital.
Cox is the the fourth largest television provider in the U.S. with approximately 6.6 million total customers, including 6.3 million basic cable subscribers.
NOPS is the 39th largest district in the U.S. with 90,000 students.
— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading