Optical/IP Networks

Ethernet News: The Urge to Converge

It's been a busy week for the Ethernet equipment fraternity, which is increasingly focused on service management. Here's a sampling of what's been happening as Supercomm looms. (See 10 Reasons to Attend Supercomm and Supercomm Faces the Music.)

  • Hatteras Networks Inc. and Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. both introduced products this week for handling Ethernet services over multiple access types.

    The move helps simplify the Ethernet services world. Equipment vendors think the different kinds of access -- Ethernet over Sonet/SDH versus Ethernet over T1/E1 lines, for instance -- shouldn't be treated as different services anymore.

    "They'll define a service very specific to the access technology. They'll have Ethernet-over-Sonet, and another definition for the Ethernet-over-PDH service, and another for Ethernet-over-fiber and another for Ethernet-over-wavelength," says Ralph Santitoro, a market development director with Fujitsu.

    Fujitu's new EtherMapper cards for its Flashwave 9500 deals with all those different access types, packing them into whatever uplink is appropriate. The box still needs different interfaces -- for Sonet as opposed to T1 lines, for instance -- but those types of traffic can all be sent to the same box in the central office.

    Fujitsu also introduced a new Gigabit Ethernet card for the Flashwave 4100, allowing the box to serve as a connection-oriented Ethernet device. Both new products got a thumbs-up from Telus Corp. (NYSE: TU; Toronto: T). (See Telus Picks Fujitsu.)

  • Similar thinking led Hatteras to bring out its first-ever modular system, the HN 6100, earlier this week. The eight-module box, two rack units tall, can accommodate multiple types of copper-Ethernet access. (See Hatteras Intros HN6100.)

    Eventually, the HN 6100 will also support cards for Hatteras's first foray into fiber-based Ethernet. How soon? "Not this year," says Vijay Raman, vice president of product line management.

    Among those Ethernet types is what Hatteras is calling pseudo-wire plus, or PWE3-plus. It's Hatteras's proprietary way of adding a clock to the Ethernet signal, a key element in doing mobile backhaul.

    Other Hatteras announcements this week included the HN600 series, targeting (guess what) mobile backhaul, and the HN500 series, for carrying Ethernet over multiple T1/E1 lines.

  • In a separate Ethernet corner, Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) is activating some carrier-grade features in its BlackDiamond 20808. The latest software release includes support for IEEE 802.1ag and ITU-T Y.1731 -- the former being a standard for continuity and fault management, the latter for jitter and latency management.

    That means both will also be available in the BlackDiamond 20804, a pint-sized version of the 20808 unveiled on October 13 and due to ship after December. (See Extreme Adds New Transport Switch.)

    The two BlackDiamonds use the same hardware and management system, giving carriers just one architecture that can work at access aggregation points and in the metro core. Other companies can make the same boast, but Extreme officials are quick to point out the supplier that doesn't: "Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) does not have such commonalities with the ASR 9000 and the 7600," says Mark Showalter, Extreme's director of service provider marketing.

  • Force10 Networks Inc. -- which, you'll recall, kept its name after recently being absorbed by Turin Networks Inc. -- made a small announcement to tout its gear's suitability for Ethernet's middle mile. That's referring to rural local exchange carriers (LECs) and utilities.

    The company announced its C300 switches are being used by Fibertech Networks LLC , based in Rochester, N.Y., and Manti Tele Communications, in central Utah. (See Force10 Targets 'Middle Mile'.)

    — Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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