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Optical/IP Networks

Circuit Switching is Back

Alidian, Cyras, and Net Insight are all using their circuit switched technologies in Sonet multiservice provisioning platforms. These devices sit at the edge of optical networks and enable carriers to provision a wide variety of services to corporate customers, almost on demand (see "Unknown Document 36")

Other vendors might jump on the DTM bandwagon now that Net Insight is close to shipping an ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) that puts a complete 8-port DTM switch on a single chip. Net Insight plans to sell the chip to other vendors so they can build their own DTM gear.

It’s tough to recognize circuit switching in the marketing material put out by DTM startups. That’s partly because they’re coy about mentioning technology that’s so frightfully unfashionable. It’s also because DTM network traffic is likely to be carried in IP packets, so it looks as though it’s being routed.

Early users of DTM equipment are convinced that circuit switching is on the brink of a big comeback. “It’s the only way of handling traffic with a large amount of video in it,” says Börje Lindén, development manager at Vasa Telephone Company in Finland, which is rolling out a network based on Net Insight equipment. Lindén sees DTM as a catalyst for the next big leap forward in convergence—of telecom and TV. He claims ATM and router networks won’t be able to cope.

Not everyone is so bullish on DTM’s prospects. Peter Lothberg, an Internet guru and one of Light Reading’s Top 10 Movers and Shakers -- see “The Top 10 Movers and Shakers in Optical Networking”— dismisses DTM as “a piece of history”. In his view, Cisco Systems Inc. http://www.cisco.com has something better: its Dynamic Packet Transport (DPT) technology for carrying IP traffic over fiber. “All the good things that you need have been put in DPT. It’s been designed to solve all these problems,” he says.

The real issue isn’t technology, it’s market power, according to Rob Batchellor, vice president of technical marketing at Stockholm’s Qeyton Systems AB (http://www.qeyton.com), which makes metro DWDM (dense wave division multiplexing products and has a joint marketing agreement with Net Insight. “DTM is a great technology but the U.S. has a ‘not-invented-here’ mentality, and DTM will meet strong resistance, especially from Cisco,” he says “It’s like Apple versus Microsoft all over again.”

—Peter Heywood, international editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com,/p>
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