Service Provisioning, European-Style
Its XDM provides everything carriers need to offer a range of services over optical backbones operating at terabit speeds. But unlike other multi-service provisioning platforms (MSPPs), it also enables carriers to offer very low bandwidth connections - as low as 64 kbit/s - without having to deploy additional low speed multiplexers and cross-connects.
That's a big deal for a lot of carriers, because right now, more than 90 percent of existing business users are still connected over circuits operating at E1 speeds of 2 Mbit/s or less, according to market researcher Dataquest http://gartner11.gartnerweb.com/dq/static/dq.html. Being able to target this market with a single box promises to deliver savings of more than 70 percent on installation costs, according to ECI. It also slashes space requirements and improves reliability.
Snags? The first version of the XDM, to be shipped in the second half of this year, targets non-U.S. markets. It's SDH (synchronous digital hierarchy) only.
The XDM's big selling point - scalability - won't apply to the U.S. until ECI brings out a Sonet (synchronous optical network) version, and that won't happen for at least another year, according to Eran Dariel, corporate vice president and general manager of ECI's network systems division. In the mean time, carriers will have to use sub-rate muxes with the XDM to provide customer connections of less than 45Mbit/s in the U.S.
Similarly, carriers will have to wait for the ATM and IP routing functions cited in ECI's announcement. Those modules won't ship until the second quarter of 2001.
And those aren't the only problems. ECI also declines to disclose prices. Dariel says that the XDM will cost less than competing broadband cross-connects from Sycamore Networks http://www.sycamorenetworks.com and Cerent (now part of Cisco Systems, Inc http://www.cisco.com), but declines to provide any evidence. (Watch this space: ECI is reconsidering its policy in the light of our comments.)