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Global Crossing Joins Wavelength Service Avant Garde

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
4/25/2000

Global Crossing Ltd. http://www.globalcrossing.com has joined a select group of carriers offering optical wavelength services.

The as-yet unnamed new service gives carriers a way to boost network capacity without having to build new facilities or lay dark fiber, Global Crossing says. Carriers can buy individual wavelengths in 2.5-Gbit/s increments in the locations where they need them--and where Global Crossing has facilities.

The wavelengths are created by DWDM multiplexers hooked up to OC-48 (2.5 Gbit/s) connections in Global Crossing's network. NEC Corp. http://www.nec.com and Cisco Systems Inc. http://www.cisco.com are supplying the equipment for the service, which is offered in the 20 U.S. cities that comprise Global Crossing's North American Crossing network.

Global Crossing was unable to provide customer contacts, but it says "several" carriers have signed on.

Global Crossing is the third wholesale carrier this year to offer a wavelength service. Others in the advance guard are Williams Communications Inc. http://www.williams.com, which unveiled its Optical Wave Service late in 1999 and is using equipment supplied by Sycamore Networks Inc. http://www.sycamorenet.com. Europe's Global TeleSystems Group http://www.gtsgroup.com, has offered a service in five European cities since August 1999 based on gear from Ciena Corp. http://www.ciena.com.

Like Global Crossing, these providers are short on customer contacts. And that's where the kinks come in. Carriers may not be rushing to buy wavelength services because they're not yet a snap to provision. Unlike ordinary leased lines, wavelengths aren't protected by Sonet-ring redundancy. To ensure protection and reliability for their customers, carriers need to back up each wavelength ordered from Global Crossing with a redundant wavelength--often on another route. Then, they must make sure those links are configured within their routers.

For instance, a link between New York and Chicago may need to be routed through Atlanta as well, to ensure there will always be a live connection. The routers in all locations will need to be configured to accommodate the redundant connections.

All this means lots of work on the carrier's part. But Global Crossing says wavelengths are worth it. "It can take up to five years for carriers to build new network facilities," says Scott Erickson, senior product manager. He says a typical buildout not only calls for lots of design work, it also means investing in rights of way, collocation rights, field operations personnel, POP upgrades, and more.

In comparison, he says, Global Crossing can lend a hand with design work, and all that's left is configuring the routers and switches. And that builds on existing investments. "Why buy Sonet protection if you already have a $500,000 router?" he says.

So far, Global Crossing and its competitors don't furnish wavelength service on OC-192 links, although all claim to be on track to offer it--Williams has promised it by the end of 2000. Will Global Crossing beat that? "We're on an aggressive plan, but we won't rush just to be first," says Erickson.

by Mary Jander, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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