Optical/IP Networks

PBT: Stray Thoughts

2:00 PM -- Left over from the Ethernet Expo notebook, some tech-side details from John Hawkins of Nortel Networks Ltd. on Provider Backbone Transport (PBT). Might make interesting reading in light of our recent poll and the aftermath thereof. (See Poll: Opex Gives PBT an Edge.)

  • PBT doesn't have to operate with a GMPLS control plane. "What I don't want people to think is that one requires the other."

  • But Hawkins concedes GMPLS will probably end up in the PBT picture: "They're probably going to become sister technologies."

  • That's because PBT requires filling out forwarding tables, and GMPLS is a good way to get the info for the tables. "It's counter-intuitive for the Ethernet guys, who don't want to populate forwarding tables."

  • PBT doesn't save the world. Some arguments against it are going too far afield, Hawkins thinks -- there was one Expo speaker, for example, who began discussing VLAN tag swapping or some such. Not quite the same zip code, Hawkins says. "All I'm trying to do is solve the metro point-to-point problem."

Most speakers at the Expo talked about PBT cautiously, without much criticism or controversy. It's as if they're in a feeling-out phase, where they might not like the idea but want a chance to kick the tires -- maybe they'll see what BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is seeing. A year from now, when Ethernet services are more established and deployments more solidified, the arguments may get more heated.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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