Optical/IP Networks

Internet Photonics Notches Telco Win

Startup Internet Photonics Inc. today is announcing that TDS Metrocom, a competitive local exchange carrier, will deploy its LightStack MXA products to offer managed point-to-point Ethernet wavelength services.

The news is significant as a customer announcement for a growing startup, but it's even more interesting considering that Internet Photonics' gear uses coarse wavelength-division multiplexing (CWDM) as a transport to provide Ethernet connectivity.

CWDM, which uses less expensive lasers to transmit traffic, is often thought of as a cheaper, shorter-range version of dense wavelength-division multiplexing. Some people estimate it undercuts the cost of deploying DWDM by about 30 to 40 percent. This announcement may indicate that carriers are increasingly looking at the technology to cut costs. (For more on CWDM, see the Light Reading report: CWDM: Low-Cost Capacity.)

“This announcement is further evidence that CWDM is really carrier-class,” says Patrick Matthews, senior analyst for Yankee Group. “It’s really good news for the technology in general to see more telco wins.”

Up to this point, interoperability and scaleability issues have kept many carriers from actually deploying CWDM. But things are starting to change. Earlier this month the International Telecommunication Union, Standardization Sector (ITU-T) standardized a specification that will allow gear from multiple vendors to interoperate (see CWDM Gets a Boost). Details of the contract aren't available. TDS Metrocom, which is the competitive subsidiary of rural telecom provider Telephone & Data Systems Inc. (Amex: TDS) is using Internet Photonics’ CWDM-based product to provide Layer 1 optical Ethernet wavelength services to residential, business, and service provider customers in its region. The service will be an alternative to existing T1 and T3 managed services. The initial rollout will begin in Wisconsin and will eventually include the other two states in the TDS Metrocom region, Michigan and Illinois. TDS Metrocom has built its own infrastructure. It serves roughly 250,000 installed lines and competes directly with local Bell operator, SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC).

The new service, available now, is being offered in direct competition to a similar service provided by SBC: SBC's GigaMAN service uses CWDM gear from Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) (see SBC's Wavelength Wonder). Unlike SBC's service, TDS's MegaDATA (100 Mbit/s) and GigaDATA (1 Gbit/s) services are protected and managed. This means that instead of purchasing a best-effort service, TDS Metrocom customers will be given service guarantees on performance and uptime.

The Internet Photonics gear is what makes this protection possible, says Ben Goth, data product manager for TDS Metrocom. It can detect when an optical signal is fading, and switch to an alternate path or fiber without any interruption to the service. Goth notes that traditional Sonet systems only begin to recover when they sense that the signal is completely gone, which results in longer recovery times.

“When moving gigabits-worth of data, any downtime can be catastrophic to our customers,” says Goth. “They can’t afford to have unprotected or unmanaged links between locations.”

Internet Photonics has already announced several customer wins. Most of these have been cable providers like Adelphia Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: ADLAC), Buckeye CableSystem, and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC). It’s also announced telecom provider, FiberNet Telecom Group Inc. (Nasdaq: FTGX) (see Internet Photonics Scores at FiberNet).

Internet Photonics hopes the latest customer win will put it in the mix with the big players that are combining Ethernet technology, DWDM, and CWDM in their metro networking gear.

Yankee Group ranks Internet Photonics fifth behind Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), ADVA AG Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV), and Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) -- in that order -- in overall optical Ethernet market share for 2002. Matthews says the entire market was worth $260 million in 2002 and is expected to grow to $1 billion by 2007. Ethernet-over-wavelength products, such as the ones Internet Photonics offers, accounted for $89 million in 2002 and are expected to grow to $373 million by 2007.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

gea 12/4/2012 | 11:14:59 PM
re: Internet Photonics Notches Telco Win "Gloth notes that traditional Sonet systems only begin to recover when they sense that the signal is completely gone, which results in longer recovery times."

Wrong and completely wrong. I certainly hope he didn't get that idea from people within Internet Photonics. SONET signal detection in fact is at the bit level...there are settable BER levels that can trigger a soft signal degrade alarm as well as full-fledged protection switching (which can happen at 10e(-9) as I remember).

As for loss of optical power, SONET can of course switch on that as well.

It's odd someone would make a statement like this...ONE thing even SONET-haters know is that it is very, very good at determining a degraded BER and acting upon that.

As for IP's CWDM approach for protecting GbE, I think this will be an important major "app" for CWDM and CWDM-based optical layer protection. This is the kind of system that will finally make some headway against traditional SONET approaches, as otherwise those GbEs would have to be mapped into a SONET container of some sort thus greatly boosting the cost. (And I don't think 10GbE is cheap enough yet nor does it have its own form of fast protection specified.)

What about Jedai Broadband Networks? Weren't they teaming up with Internet Photonics? Will their little GbE switches (with circuit emulated T1s) get deployed also? Anybody know?
mbolig 12/4/2012 | 11:14:56 PM
re: Internet Photonics Notches Telco Win does this mean
gea 12/4/2012 | 11:14:54 PM
re: Internet Photonics Notches Telco Win ABout Internet photonics I can't say.

But a GFP+G.709 approach isn't appropriate for the kind of cheap Ethernet transport application that'll will proliferqate in the future. Indeed, I can't see using CWDM if you've already mapped traffic and boosted you're costs.

No, what will eventually find a market is cheap-n-easy CWDM...in many applications transponders won't even be needed because they can use pluggable CWDM optics on the Ethernet switch. And then, the next "obvious" step to adding CWDM to Ethernet is to pack in some optical layer protection, so that you AREN'T forced to map into SONET or G.709.
Infinite_Wingnut 12/4/2012 | 11:09:02 PM
re: Internet Photonics Notches Telco Win GEA wrote: What about Jedai Broadband Networks? Weren't they teaming up with Internet Photonics? Will their little GbE switches (with circuit emulated T1s) get deployed also? Anybody know?
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Nice to see you keeping it lively on the board, GEA! Yes, Jedai teamed up with Internet Photonics, but it's mostly biased towards Photonic's benefit. As I've been told, Jedai sold the store to them.

With Jedai's money running out (they should have enough to stay afloat until about late February 2004), Photonics will just wait and buy up the IP a penny to the dollar.

One of the problems was that Jedai didn't show anything new at SCTE this year. Their booth had, in fact, less in it than the previous year. Also, since they got their application in late, the booth was over by the men's room, so most of the traffic through the booth was people running to empty their bladders.

Anyway, their box still doesn't have all the functionality promised in the SCTE 2002 show and they don't have an NMS to handle the complexities of network administration, and their EMS is box-to-box only.

Jedai removed AT&T from its "Partner" list on their web page .. which means that AT&T sent the equipment back. AT&T had a couple boxes over a year and hadn't paid for them. If Jedai can't get AT&T to buy the boxes, it doesn't look good for the rest of the world (usually a tougher sell).

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