Ethernet equipment

PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo

LONDON -- Light Reading's Ethernet Expo: Europe 2007 -- PBT (Provider Backbone Transport), the controversial new flavor of Ethernet that's being deployed by BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), was the main talking point at Ethernet Expo Europe here Wednesday. (See PBT: New Kid on the Metro Block, PBT's Ethernet Appeal, and BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT.)

The event, which attracted more than 300 visitors on its first day, included presentations and panel discussions on a wide range of carrier Ethernet topics -- fixed and wireless access options, operator service deployments, technology advances, operational issues, and Ethernet's role in consumer services such as IPTV -- but PBT was a recurring theme in those presentations and in vendor news announcements made at the show.

  • Matt Beal, CTO at BT Wholesale , reaffirmed the carrier's commitment to deploying PBT in its 21CN next-generation network during his keynote address. But he warned against a view that PBT, which promises TDM-like control and management for point-to-point Ethernet transport connections, is a competitive technology to Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).

    "It seems like we're gearing up for a religious battle between PBB/PBT and MPLS, but I hope that peace will break out soon," said the BT man, who has stressed before that both PBT and MPLS will coexist in 21CN as, respectively, the Layer 2 and Layer 3 technologies.

    "Tightly integrated optical, Ethernet, and IP/MPLS offers the only solution to meet all our customers' needs -- if I abandon any of these technologies then I limit my potential," said Beal.

  • Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) says its new carrier Ethernet box, the BlackDiamond 12802R, supports PBB (Provider Backbone Bridging) and PBB-TE (PBB - Traffic Engineering), the name given to PBT in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) standards process. (See Extreme Gets Small.)

    Peter Lunk, director of service provider marketing for Extreme, says PBB-TE support will also be added to Extreme's larger edge box, the 12804R, and the 10808 metro switch. "PBT is cropping up in every RFP and RFI we're seeing at the moment," says Lunk. "Carriers want to see this supported, even though it's going to be 12 to 18 months before we have a standard, and deployments are still some way out."

    Lunk says the carrier interest is coming from operators with strong SDH/Sonet deployments, and mainly in connection with supporting business Ethernet services.

  • Ethernet access equipment firm ANDA Networks Inc. is another vendor announcing PBT support in a new platform. (See ANDA Unveils EtherReach 1000.)

    Its new product, the EtherReach 1000, is a customer premises box that terminates an Ethernet-over-fiber connection. The company says it has added PBT support, as well as MPLS and Ethernet Q-in-Q, to give carriers a greater range of transport options as new alternatives arise.

  • In other news issued at the London event, RAD Data Communications Ltd. unveiled a new Ethernet-over-copper device that has up to four Ethernet ports and pseudowire support. It sits alongside and works in tandem with a central office DSLAM, and can enable services such as VOIP and Ethernet VPNs at speeds of up to 22 Mbit/s. (See RAD Unveils New Ethernet Access.)

    Ethernet access player Hatteras Networks Inc. also announced a new customer -- Mila, the recently spun-off wholesale division of Iceland's incumbent operator, Síminn (formerly Iceland Telecom). (See Hatteras Wins in Iceland.)

    Not a big deal financially for the vendor, but a different one, as the carrier and vendor never met during the procurement process. Halldor Guomundsson, director of R&D at Mila, tells Light Reading he saw the Hatteras equipment at a tradeshow, sent the company an email, and received a Hatteras box two days later to test.

    "It worked straight away, so we decided to use it," says Guomundsson. Did he test any products from other vendors, too? "We're too small, we don't have the time or resources to do that," replies the Mila man.

    He adds that the original intention was to use the equipment to provide high-speed access for business customers without having to dig fiber out to new buildings, but with the expanded capacity on the copper lines, the equipment can also be used to provide other services, such as mobile traffic backhaul.

    The carrier executive, though, says Hatteras will need to add more features to allow such capabilities, as the backhaul of mobile traffic requires very precise clock synchronization between the base station controller and the base stations. Hatteras CEO Kevin Sheehan says the company is working on a specific application to deal with exactly that issue, and will announce details in the coming weeks.

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

  • Mark Sebastyn 12/5/2012 | 3:09:15 PM
    re: PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo Lots of talk about Ethernet over PDH. On paper it looks great. But where is it being deployed? Also, it doesn't address the core issue which is bandwidth. The reality is ATM or PPP basically can achieve the same link.
    materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:09:15 PM
    re: PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo Service Providers seem to like layer-2 with some sort of OSS on top, instead of Layer-3 routed nets. The fact the BT guy had to protect MPLS shows how popular PBT has become. As to EXTR seeing 100% PBT in RFQs, consider the source. The real question is how many requests they are getting.
    torivar 12/5/2012 | 3:09:14 PM
    re: PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo On the flipside, at FutureNet (formerly MPLSCON), Nortel was trying to defend PBT in the face of many of the architects of MPLS and Internet standards in general. Most of the questions center around "Why bother.", when MPLS already exists and can do the same thing.

    If there is a cost savings by going hop by hop through a PBB-TE network to the end user from the agg node versus going hop by hop through an MPLS node, then I'm all for it. Since no devices really exist right now, all we can do is wait.

    For the time being, large carriers are deploying MPLS instead.
    metroether 12/5/2012 | 3:09:13 PM
    re: PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo "As to EXTR seeing 100% PBT in RFQs, consider the source. The real question is how many requests they are getting."

    These guys must be seeing different RFQs than we get over here. I've reviewed the 17 Ethernet RFPs/RFQs that I've worked on in the past 12 months, and except for a certain carrier associated with tea and crumpets, PBT has been mentioned zero times, even as an optional/information feature.

    It's all marketing, nothing more.
    t.bogataj 12/5/2012 | 3:09:13 PM
    re: PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo Stay focused: it is not about technology; it is not about PBT versus MPLS (or T-MPLS). It is all about good marketing that Nortel and BT started together in mid-2005, and is now culminating in all this fuss about PBT. The approach is simple: get an imature idea, publicize it, and when it turns out to be swiss-cheese-like, push it to, say, IEEE-SA to make it work. In the meantime, enjoy publicity. And pick the bucks.
    dask 12/5/2012 | 3:09:12 PM
    re: PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo I tell you "Why bother". Could it be that from purely CAPEX perspective it is sickening to carriers that MPLS vendors are making 60-80% margins on their gear and if they can get some of what MPLS does at Ethernet costs then they would be silly not to do it.

    Here is my prediction: PBB/PBT will force routers to become commoditized.

    krbabu 12/5/2012 | 3:09:12 PM
    re: PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo Dask:
    On the other hand, I see it differently.

    The PBB/PBT switches will of course obviate the need for routers in some portions of the network. And, in other portions where routers are indeed needed, they will take on more functionality.

    Application-aware networking, or XML routing, holds limitless possibilities.
    ip_power 12/5/2012 | 3:09:11 PM
    re: PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo From EXTR stand point this is just another flavor of their EAPS that they have been pushing for a while. Now with more encapsulation functionality to transport legacy over ethernet it is just timing. Yes it is also about the bling, but yes also for us the consumers we should be glad to see ethernet moving more. The bling for ethernet is much less than the Cisco's of the world like it to be and even forced Juniper to come around. IP won a long time ago and with some advances Ethernet will will and the pinhole in the dam is already showing....
    CDPlayer 12/5/2012 | 3:09:05 PM
    re: PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo Now I get it why Extreme didn't accept an invitation to respond to our RFI - we didn't have PBT/PBB in it. :)
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