Gearmakers Chase Ethernet in Europe
Marconi Corp. plc (Nasdaq/London: MONI) has integrated an Ethernet connectivity solution from MRV Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: MRVC) into its metro lineup (see MRV, Marconi Team on EoSDH). And Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) has unveiled a new metro edge-aggregation crossconnect set for shipment by year's end (see Tellabs Intros EoSDH Switch Node).
Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) has also weighed in on the trend, adding E1 support to the MetroDirector K2 platform for SDH (see Ciena Enhances MetroDirector K2).
The product debuts are signs that Ethernet services are picking up in Europe and other areas where SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy), the analog to Sonet used in a range of geographies worldwide, rules metro nets.
"Everyone basically who's buying next-gen networks wants Ethernet interfaces," says Jas Samra, director of SDH access at Marconi. He says the addition of a device called Ethernet Port Extension from MRV to Marconi's PacketSpan product line is helping eliminate the need for extra boxes to handle Ethernet demand.
Formerly, service providers looking to extend Ethernet to remote enterprises would have to buy two boxes: one Series 4 CPE device for transporting SDH links from the central office to the remote box outside under the street or in a building's basement; and one PacketSpan CPE device to link directly to the customer site. Now, a single unit can link to the SDH network and perform the CPE Ethernet conversion.
How important is this product to Marconi? "We have no queries from customers that exclude Ethernet," Samra answers simply.
MRV, which makes the optical termination element of the box, says it worked with Marconi to get the remote management and specific linkages to the Marconi devices up and running. It is open to offering the same customization arrangement to other vendors, too.
Tellabs says a burgeoning demand led to its introduction of the 6345 Switch Node today. The new device is meant to eliminate the backhauling of traffic to a central office crossconnect for assignment to Ethernet service links. It's a smaller version of the 6450, announced earlier this year (see Tellabs Ships Metro Crossconnect). That product has seen the fastest growth of any product yet released by Tellabs' international division -- tripled-digit growth, says Bo Joergensen, senior manager there. But it's a bit too big for metro applications.
Both Tellabs and Marconi are clear that metro Ethernet is the driving force behind their product introductions. They say that growth is mainly taking place in Europe, but there is also a great deal of interest coming from the Asia/Pacific region. Tellabs' Joergensen also says Latin American trials are underway.
For its part, Ciena says Ethernet services are on the rise everywhere, and spokesman Glenn Jasper acknowledges the enhancements to the MetroDirector K2 are part of a plan to bulk up Ciena's support of them.
Notably, the K2 enhancements represent Ciena's first support for Gigabit Ethernet on a metro switching platform; the vendor's Online series supports point-to-point Gigabit Ethernet without switching (the Online Edge product is set to get 10/100-Mbit/s support by the first part of 2004). The ability to switch Ethernet enables the Ciena gear to operate in corporate VLANs, the vendor says. The K2 also supports 100-Mbit/s Ethernet.
— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading