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Ethernet equipment

Nortel Says 40-Gbit PBT Coming Soon

Nortel Networks Ltd. sees an opportunity to steal market share from router manufacturers through its provider backbone transport (PBT) business. Philippe Morin, president of Nortel's Metro Ethernet Networks business, also said Nortel expects to announce a 40-Gbit/s PBT product by the end of the year, during an investor conference call today hosted by Prudential Equity Group LLC analyst Inder Singh.

Nortel was an early supporter of PBT, a controversial technology designed to bring carrier-grade transport features at an Ethernet price point. But a number of equipment suppliers have recently joined the market, as carriers begin to look more closely at PBT. (See PBT Gathers Support, PBT: New Kid on the Metro Block, Will Fujitsu Join PBT Parade?, and Huawei Joins PBT Fan Club.)

The technology got a huge boost when BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) announced it would be used in the carrier's 21CN next-generation network project, a contract that Nortel and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) won. Outlining his company's view of the PBT market and the opportunity in it, Morin touted Nortel's first-mover advantage in the market, due to its early focus on PBT and its BT 21CN win. (See BT Rethinks 21CN Core Strategy, Nortel, Siemens Win PBT Deals at BT, Nortel on PBT: Today BT, Tomorrow the World!, and BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT.)

The BT win was "a huge vote of confidence," which has led to a number of trials and interest in Nortel's PBT solution. "Since January [when the BT win was announced], we've been on a lot of planes and in a lot of meetings" with potential customers, Morin said.

Now Nortel believes it can win share in the Ethernet transport space and elsewhere in the telecom equipment market. Believing that in next-generation networks carrier Ethernet and optical technologies will continue to move together, Morin says this will provide an opportunity for Nortel to grab market share from traditional router manufacturers.

But he said that despite the company's early success, it is continuing to enhance its PBT portfolio. As part of this initiative, Nortel is working on a 40-Gbit/s PBT solution, which Morin said he expects to be launched by the end of the year.

The company is also participating in the standards process and working with other vendors in the PBT space on interoperability. Admitting that PBT is still in early stages of standardization, Morin said that the process is moving quickly but will probably take 18 months to two years to run its course.

Even so, customers don't appear to be daunted by lack of standardization. "Customers like BT are comfortable with where [PBT] is now," Morin said. "BT is not waiting for standards to get approved."

Morin says Nortel is collaborating with PBT players to build ecosystems of vendors and suppliers, and to improve operability among them. He said that with many PBT vendors, Nortel is not competing head to head, but working together to offer end-to-end solutions to customers.

The real competition in metro transport, he says, isn't coming from other PBT vendors, but from Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and VPLS (virtual private LAN service) competitors. While Nortel will work to create interoperability with MPLS, Morin believes that PBT offers advantages in metro networks, where "we don't believe MPLS can scale."

Despite the BT win and current trials with Tier 1 carriers, Morin believes in the short term that most North American PBT buying decisions will come from Tier 2 companies. Nortel is also targeting MSOs for PBT-based business services and wireless providers looking to extend wireless backhaul networks.

"We're very happy with market movement and takeup," Morin says. "We're happy with the level of [customer] engagements."

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:08:03 PM
re: Nortel Says 40-Gbit PBT Coming Soon Fixed, and thanks for spotting it.

Maybe an echo-system is what you get when a bunch of companies all chase the same buzzword.
rzerockzeron 12/5/2012 | 3:08:03 PM
re: Nortel Says 40-Gbit PBT Coming Soon Morin says Nortel is collaborating with PBT players to build echo systems of vendors and suppliers (...)

...talk about MS WORD spell-checker running amok...then again, maybe Microsoft does not want an ecosystem of software vendors around...lol
donniall 12/5/2012 | 3:08:01 PM
re: Nortel Says 40-Gbit PBT Coming Soon Or maybe its a by-product of unsuccessfully trying to build eco-systems .....eco-sytems ....eco-systems .....
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:08:00 PM
re: Nortel Says 40-Gbit PBT Coming Soon Ha! What a howler.
Thanks for the note. We've fixt the problem.

ph
Meister 12/5/2012 | 3:08:00 PM
re: Nortel Says 40-Gbit PBT Coming Soon So this explains NT's interest in 40G Ethernet while the rest of the industry is moving to 100G. Didn't think they were that enamored with the data center since they long ago sold off the blade group.
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:07:59 PM
re: Nortel Says 40-Gbit PBT Coming Soon his note this morning gives NT a thumbs up for having PBT in its corner:

"Ethernet is a crowded market, but PBT could help differentiate NT and improve share as metro optical and carrier Ethernet markets merge. We believe NT's efforts to focus on higher-margin businesses such as Ethernet and enterprise, as espoused again on our conference call, could entail organic and inorganic growth strategies."
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:07:59 PM
re: Nortel Says 40-Gbit PBT Coming Soon re: "Does the NT move to 40G rather than 100G imply they will be bypassed by the faster technology, or could they be aiming at a slower part of the network?"

Great question, as usual. (Are you on staff here?)

We'll put it to them soon and see what gives.

ph
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:07:59 PM
re: Nortel Says 40-Gbit PBT Coming Soon Meister says:
"So this explains NT's interest in 40G Ethernet while the rest of the industry is moving to 100G."

Does the NT move to 40G rather than 100G imply they will be bypassed by the faster technology, or could they be aiming at a slower part of the network? Separately, adding the AVCI Soapstone control-plane code to this type of box could get interesting.
^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 3:07:51 PM
re: Nortel Says 40-Gbit PBT Coming Soon Meister,

I think you are taking a veiw that is too high level (40,000 feet) regards 100GigE vs 40G. I think that view is preventing you from seeing the real picture.

Yes, lots of people are "interested" in 100G. However the reality is that 100G deployments are at least 2 years away and probably more like 3 or 4.

I am deeply involved in both 40G and 100G. They are not mutually exclusive. Rather, nearly all carriers who are interested in 100G eventually are also planning on 40G deployments now and in the foreseable future.

Indeed 100G will happen. But it will take some time. Lots of things need to be invented and lots of issues need to be solved to make 100G happen: new modulators, new drivers, new detectors, new CD and PMD dynamic correction methods, new CDR's, new mux/demux (electrical), new framers... and new network architectures across the world.

This is several years effort. In the meantime there is a real need for increased bit density in the core of the network (core includes router to router short reach, router to transport network - dwdm, and both metro and LH transport). 40G is deployable today. 100G is not even remotely ready. It is still very much on the "drawing" board.

And solving the 40G issues is almost certainly a pre-requisite to being able to make 100G work in the real world.

also note: 100G will happen first on very short reach interfaces: router to router or router to storage device. 100G across the backbone will take some time. (of course there is the infinera 100G... but that is not really 100G. It is 10 x 10G wavelengths. Anyone can do this. It is only inverse muxing of bandwidth. Not really increasing the bit density on the fibers).

Again, to be clear. 100g is something that would be very good for my company and my focus of work. I am a supporter and very involved in the effort. However, the reality is that massive 40G deployments will happen long before 100G becomes reality. 100G now is where 40G was in 2000 / 2001. early work.. but LOTS of things left that must be solved before any 100G is really deployed.

100G is simply the next logical long range bit rate goal. That does not negate the need for 40g for the foreseable futue.

sailboat
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