Laurel Pumps Up IPTV Plans
Laurel trotted out a 10-Gbit/s network processing card and some software features related to provisioning and security (see Laurel Networks Drops in on Video).
Laurel's plan revolves around Ethernet, as the company noted in February (see Laurel Looks to Europe). Features announced today include a new 10-Gbit/s Ethernet processing card, a boost from the 5-Gbit/s previously offered (a previously announced 10-Gbit/s interface is intended for trunking to the network core, whereas the new card is for interfaces on the access side of the box).
Laurel is also enhancing its B-RAS-like subscriber management capabilities. For example, Laurel's newest provisioning software can determine the type of device connecting to the network. This feature responds to carriers' concerns that the high-priority bandwidth intended for TV would get used for plain Internet access. This is required because in Ethernet, requests arrive via the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), which lacks the user authentication of older Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) setups.
Exactly how this happens is being kept secret. "We've come up with some creative ways to replace PPP authentication with elements of DHCP," Vogelsang says.
Laurel is pitching its ST200 as part of a "drop-in" model for IP video, where Laurel's router is added to a running network alongside a B-RAS. This puts routing capability -- with added reliability and speed -- into the access network, increasing its potential for handling video.
The next step would be to simplify the network by consolidating some of the access points and moving everything to Ethernet and IP rather than ATM. At this juncture, Laurel sees its ST200 replacing the B-RAS. Or, more properly, the B-RAS stops being a separate system and "becomes a function known as 'subscriber management,' " Vogelsang says.
That's already happening, as standalone B-RASs from vendors such as Copper Mountain Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: CMTN) are losing steam (see Copper Mountain Runs Dry and McLeodUSA Selects Broadsoft ). Laurel, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), and Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) have rolled the B-RAS function into routers, while Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) preaches that the B-RAS operations can be handled by DSLAMs.
This kind of integration is normal for the equipment industry, of course. But B-RASs would have had a hard time standing alone anyway, as it's unclear whether they could pack enough throughput to survive the video age. "The typical B-RAS is optimized around number of subscribers, not bandwidth per subscriber," Vogelsang says.
Other vendors are winning contracts using a drop-in model similar to Laurel's. Redback won one such with KT Corp., for example, as that vendor has already built a very high speed DSL (VDSL) network and now needs to add features such as subscriber management (see Redback Wins KT Phase 2).
But some carriers are choosing to build from scratch, skipping straight to the simplified network.
BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), for example, is building a parallel network to accommodate next-generation services -- primarily video, but also voice. The company didn't want to use its installed network because it involved using ATM to aggregate DSLAMs. "It became very complex to model what kind of quality of service [QOS] they would get over an ATM network," says Steve Murray, director of product management at Redback.
Hence, the parallel network. BellSouth is connecting DSLAMs directly to Redback SmartEdge boxes, which act as both B-RAS and aggregation point (see How Redback Won BellSouth).
The setup runs entirely on Ethernet, and Redback considers it an alternative to the network architecture laid out by the DSL Forum in TR-59. That document, which outlines the use of B-RASs in the network, does have good QOS controls but "still has much more complexity than an Ethernet-based, directly connected network," Murray says.
That doesn't mean TR-59 is irrelevant. "There's a big video portion of TR-59," specifying QOS support for advanced services such as video and games, says David Boland, product marketing manager at Juniper.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading