The day-long seminar was the first of three sessions being organized by Light Reading and sponsored by Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. (FNC), and Empirix Inc.
Conference speakers discussed how network infrastructure will have to change in order to accomodate glamorous new services such as VOIP and IPTV. The topic looms as wireline carriers reorient their networks to focus on IP and MPLS while trying to stave off competition from cable operators.
As one example of the thought process, consider SBC Communications Inc.'s (NYSE: SBC) Project Lightspeed. This presents an enormous challenge to the telecom carrier to figure out how to carry video sources around the network. SBC is building a model that is much different from the centralized headend of a cable network. Instead, video will be distributed around the network consisting of 40 IP video hubs and 140 IP video office servers (see Inside SBC's IPTV Factory)
Carriers pursuing this distributed model "will have to do more sophisticated multicasting in places in the network where they didn't have to before," said Rick Thompson, the Heavy Reading analyst moderating the event.
That can lead to some headaches. Thompson cited a Chinese service provider where an operator using File Transer Protocol (FTP) to move video around the network had to monitor and adjust the network choke points on a daily basis, as usage patterns changed.
Elsewhere, the rise of IP DSLAMs means a different role for the broadband remote access server (B-RAS). "We're beginnng to see more functionality that we would think of as B-RAS move to IP DSLAMs, and I see this trend accelerating in the future," said John Cupit, principal network architect for FNC.
But that doesn't mean the B-RAS will vanish; in fact, its role in subscriber management will persist and possibly expand. "For example," Cupit said, "I see the B-RAS being able to provide virtual firewall protection to each subscriber" or to keep a "virtual profile" of each subscriber.
None of this is certain, of course; in fact, even the DSLAM portion isn't set in stone yet. "The DSLAMs we have are still a little bit too simplistic for the kinds of applications [carriers] want to do," said Ahmed Abdelhalim, product line manager for Foundry.
On the edges of the network, meanwhile, debate will brew over whether to aggregate traffic with pseudowires -- technologies that mimic the circuits of an ATM network -- or with edge routers, which present a connectionless, data-oriented option. The choice will lead to some "hot and heavy" arguments in service-provider halls, Cupit said.
External issues will determine much of how the network grows, too. That's particularly true of established Sonet/SDH carriers that will have to integrate Layer 3 into their operational support systems (OSS). In those cases, "the predominant problem becomes what I call Layer 8 of the ISO model: the human political level," Cupit said.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
Light Reading's "Future of IP" roadshow will continue with sessions in New York on Thursday, March 17, and Chicago on Tuesday, March 22. More information is available at www.lightreading.com/live/.
For more on this topic, check out:
- The Heavy Reading reports:
— Pseudowires and the Future of Transport and Access Networks
— Ethernet Services in China
— Carrier Ethernet Services: Who's Doing What
- The Light Reading Insider reports:
— Residential VOIP Services Explosion
— FTTP Success: It's the Video
For further education, visit the archives of related Light Reading Webinars:
- Ethernet Services: Service Provider Challenges
- Circuit Emulation Services over Ethernet
- Ethernet Access: The Road to Revenues
- Ethernet Services: A 2005 Preview
- B-RAS Developments
- The Role of DSLAMs in Delivering Next-Gen Services
- Next-Gen DSLAMs
- The Future of Voice
- The Future of Voice, Video, and Data