RAD Homes in on Multiservice CPE

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- RAD Data Communications Ltd. wants the world to believe it's in a class by itself. But in reality, it may be merely on the cutting edge of a growing trend. At least, that appears to be the upshot of a product announcement the vendor made at the SuperNet tradeshow yesterday (see RAD Concentrates).

RAD's ACE-2002 Multiservice ATM Access Concentrator now interworks with frame relay networks and offers OC12 (622 Mbit/s) interfaces and voice and Internet Protocol (IP) connectivity. But that's not the real news. Instead, the announcement signals that RAD sees a future in a product that the vendor has touted as virtually one of a kind.

Here's the scoop: Several methods have emerged to bring multiple services -- IP VPNs, voice, frame, and so on -- to business customer sites.

These solutions fall into three main product categories:

  • Edge routers These devices typically use Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) to emulate TDM, frame, or Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) virtual circuits to multiple users over existing carrier networks. By doing this, the routers enable carriers to save on facilities costs while upping their revenue streams -- without changing the nature of their routed networks. Vendors include:

  • Multiservice switches These switches run multiple traffic types over carrier networks, also using MPLS in many instances. Some of these are new iterations of ATM switches that have been recast to bridge the gap between "legacy" ATM and "next-generation" IP networks (see The Great ATM Blitz). Vendors include:

  • CPE solutions The concept of using a CPE box to arbitrate carrier services isn't new. For years, vendors have called these boxes "integrated access devices" (IADs) or ATM concentrators. The difference now is that they're taking on a new role in the metro network, with additional interfaces and capacity. Besides RAD, vendors developing products in this area include: In the past, Cisco and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) also competed, via acquired companies (Cisco through its Hynix acquisition, Nortel via Sonoma). Cisco and Nortel appear to have backed out of the market, however.
  • What do RAD and its competitors see in the CPE solution? For one thing, it's easier and cheaper to install than gear that requires a network upgrade. Service providers just plug the wee boxes in at the edge of an existing network and let them talk to each other. In other words, carriers get to preserve their existing infrastructure investment while mining new sources of revenue.

    It's also clearly an opportunity for RAD to capitalize on its strengths. As other vendors have quit the market, RAD has stepped in, making the most of capabilities it already has in its concentrators. The current crop of enhancements clearly indicate the vendor's intent to support the latest trends in edge networking for large enterprises.

    RAD appears to have been alone in spotting this opportunity early on, when it added ATM support in its multiservice concentrators back in June 2001 (see RAD to Expand ATM Development).

    But RAD's competitors are starting to catch the drift.

    "We'll be introducing additional integrated access devices with more port counts and router and packet capabilities," says John Maddison, director of product management at Vina Technologies. He says his company is selling four times the amount of IADs it did a year ago, and more to ILECs.

    "There's been a shift back to basics," he says.

    Only time will tell how this niche evolves. After all, access networking remains a market in flux, and a hoard of newer players are touting multiservice delivery based not on ATM but on DWDM and other technologies. Several of these, such as LuxN Inc., also function on customer premises. Stay tuned.

    — Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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    ATMguru 12/4/2012 | 11:01:11 PM
    re: RAD Homes in on Multiservice CPE Not quite. I think there's even a quote from John Maddison, director of product management at Vina.
    ATMguru 12/4/2012 | 11:01:11 PM
    re: RAD Homes in on Multiservice CPE I think these boxes are edge equipment and not CLE/CPE products. For edge equipment you can find other alternatives but they are really cumbersome solutions for a customer prem device.
    ATMguru 12/4/2012 | 11:01:12 PM
    re: RAD Homes in on Multiservice CPE IMHO the coverage for this technology is interesting, especially the departure of the major players from the market and the "carrier controlled" boxes and the decentralization aspect of this equipment.
    zulu 12/4/2012 | 11:01:44 PM
    re: RAD Homes in on Multiservice CPE Whilst RAD might like to think they are exclusively in the CPE parket for Optical Systems, They are NOT.

    Metrodata is a UK Manufacturer of ATM CPE switches that can support E1,T1,E2,E3 and DS3 circuit Emulation services on an OC3 link. For more information visit our Webb site http://www.metrodata.co.uk

    Bill Hutt
    mu-law 12/4/2012 | 11:01:56 PM
    re: RAD Homes in on Multiservice CPE Time for some new staff over there... Nothing could be more irrelevant to the access equipment market than a RAD CPE announcement. I'm surprised to see such emphatic commentary from a writer that obviously has no background and has done no research in this segment.

    xanthus24 12/4/2012 | 11:02:09 PM
    re: RAD Homes in on Multiservice CPE Hey, PSAX was the combination of both Sahara and Yurie. WHile Sahara brought some product clarification to the PSAX line, Yurie brought the capabilities. PSAX is not dead. It is a perfectly capable switch line that scales well...
    Santo 12/4/2012 | 11:02:10 PM
    re: RAD Homes in on Multiservice CPE Humm.. What about Unisphere ( edge router) and Seabridge ( multiservice atm switch) ?
    elbowjames 12/4/2012 | 11:02:11 PM
    re: RAD Homes in on Multiservice CPE PSAX = Sahara (at least for CPE end of range) = dead
    ATMer 12/4/2012 | 11:02:12 PM
    re: RAD Homes in on Multiservice CPE The PSAX line from Lucent also have all of the mentioned features although i haven't heard of any recent wins.
    jshuler 12/4/2012 | 11:02:14 PM
    re: RAD Homes in on Multiservice CPE Marconi has a box they picked up through their acquisition of Mariposa Technology in Oct 2000 that is an outstanding ATM access concentrator. It provides T1/E1 CES, ISDN PRI, Q.Sig and CAS signalled voice over ATM, and Ethernet services with routing over a network interface that scales from T1/E1 to IMA to OC3/STM1. Won several awards, and to my knowledge, still standing.
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