Tropic Touts Tracking Approach

Tropic Networks Inc. says it's developed a unique way to track wavelengths through an optical network, eliminating costs. The question is, How unique is it?

Tropic plans to demonstrate the Wavelength Tracker, a feature of the TRX-24000T metro optical transport platform it announced in May (see Tropic Re-Emerges), at the upcoming NFOEC trade show in Dallas (see Tropic Demos Wavelength Tracker). The technique and the box are both set for general availability September 30.

Tropic's among a small but increasingly competitive number of vendors aiming for the metro DWDM transport space. These vendors claim to consolidate key features of Sonet and DWDM gear, while eliminating costly amplification and optical-to-electrical-to-optical (OEO) conversions.

Tropic, for example, says its wavelength management technology enables vendors to save the costs associated with lugging high-end test equipment to central offices in search of network problems. Instead, Tropic packs its own built-in optical analyzer.

It works like this: Tropic takes Sonet traffic from large-scale aggregation boxes, such as the ONS 15454 from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), or any other vendor's equipment that exports ITU-grid DWDM signals.

As the signals enter Tropic's box, an optical identifier is attached to each channel, enabling that wavelength to be identified anywhere it turns up in the network. The identifier enables Tropic to monitor power consumption and connectivity associated with specific wavelengths and the network cards that support those wavelengths in the vendor's equipment.

Tropic says that no transponders are required for use of its wavelength monitoring technology.

Tropic is claiming its technology is unique, but it's facing a slew of competitors. The roster of metro platform suppliers includes newer companies such as Atrica Inc. and Luminous Networks Inc. that have a packet-centric approach to optical edge systems, The competition also includes Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) and Riverstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RSTN), as well as next-generation Sonet vendors such as Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA).

At least one of Tropic's competitors makes similar claims about optical monitoring. Atrica says it too can track individual wavelengths through the network. How to tell the difference?

One possible metric is distance. In Atrica's case, signals can be monitored at a distances up to 300 kilometers. Tropic's claiming to monitor at distances up to 600km. The vendor says it's got about 20 patents on the technique.

But distance isn't everything. Experts say today's metro solutions must fit a roster of carrier requirements. Indeed, there are those who claim that circuit-switched solutions, instead of packet-oriented ones like Tropic's, may be a more practical solution for some carriers in the near term.

However, Tropic has its eye on making the grade in the long term. It is working with Telcordia Technologies Inc. on having its particular set of optical wavelength metrics adopted in network management specs used by that company's carrier databases.

Tropic's also got customers using Wavelength Tracker, it says, including a leading incumbent carrier and a CLEC, both in the U.S.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
gea 12/4/2012 | 9:54:57 PM
re: Tropic Touts Tracking Approach Sounds like a pilot tone. The question is, can they differentiate different "copies" of the same wavelength in their network? IN other words, if an OADM is set up incorrectly, sending the "wrong" lambda #6 (say) to an end terminal (rather than dropping and adding a new one), will their system know that that is the wrong copy of lambda 6?

Note that Tellabs 7100 also does not require transponders (they perform montioring in their OFAs and elsewhere). Doesn't sound super-new at all, but maybe we'll here more...then again, who cares if they're never going to sell equipment anyway.
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 9:54:54 PM
re: Tropic Touts Tracking Approach First of all wavelength management is not the same as SONET/SDH managment From the perspective of RBOCs unless the waves can be managed from the OSS, the wave monitoring system does not bring a true value.
sigint 12/4/2012 | 9:54:53 PM
re: Tropic Touts Tracking Approach BobbyMax:
First of all wavelength management is not the same as SONET/SDH managment From the perspective of RBOCs unless the waves can be managed from the OSS, the wave monitoring system does not bring a true value.

Have to admit it, you do make sense this time around BobbyMax.

To articulate questions that I have:

1. What "Costs" specifically does the new feature eliminate ?
2. It appears to me that the box would work in conjunction with other OEO equipment. Can't such tracking info be incorporated and monitored in those stages ? Why *MUST* I track wavelengths in the optical domain ?

Any answers/guesses ?
gea 12/4/2012 | 9:54:48 PM
re: Tropic Touts Tracking Approach Bobby Max, as usual, makes a comment that betrays his complete lack of knowledge in an area.

First of all, what do you mean by "mnaging a wave from an OSS"...which OSS are you referring to? TIRKS now has the slots for DWDM. And what do you mean by "manage"? Provisionability? That is certainly NOT a prerequisite for the usefulness of wavelength monitoring schemes.

The ability to ascertain that one's wavelengths are actually where one believes them to be is absolutely critical for the widesspread acceptance of DWDM in Metro networks.

As for monitoring in the electronic domain, unless Tropic is using G.709 (Digital wrapper), this can not be done in the normal digital domain per se. (And if they were using G.709, I assume they'd say it) An often-used option is some form of subcarrier, most likely RF. Depending on how this is implemnted, there are a lot of capabilities that can be piggybacked. If Tropic is claiming that their subcarrier has a lot of lasting power, then either they are using some very robust coding at an RF frequency, or they have placed their subcarrier up above the baseband frequency, which has other advnatages as well.

Of course, another thing they could be doing is simply directly detecting the wavelength via one of the many off-the-shelf devices availa ble these days, but based on their hoopla it doesn't sound like it.

sgamble 12/4/2012 | 9:54:20 PM
re: Tropic Touts Tracking Approach As an ex-employee I shouldn't say anything. But I know all the Tropic folks read this board. Speak up Lads!

BackSlash 12/4/2012 | 9:53:35 PM
re: Tropic Touts Tracking Approach lurk... lurk...

Yo.. listening and laughing..

enjoy the sun & surf dude..! Use SPF 15XX
sgamble 12/4/2012 | 9:51:39 PM
re: Tropic Touts Tracking Approach OSPF?? oh!

When Tropic goes public, tough being such an optimist these days I know, you will have to come down and drink some rum with me. We can drink it on Bacardi's lawn since their HQ is there :)

-Ex-Tropican moving to Bermuda

ps I'll be thinking of you freaks during your winter. Call me on my cell, I'll be golfing on Christmas Day.
Sign In