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Ethernet equipment

IEEE to Rubber-Stamp PBB-TE

Connection-oriented Ethernet technology Provider Backbone Bridging - Traffic Engineering (PBB-TE) is only weeks away from being ratified as a formal standard, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) announced today. (See PBB-TE Nears Standards Completion and A Guide to PBT/PBB-TE.)

The IEEE says PBB-TE, also known as P802.1Qay, has completed the Institute's sponsor ballot process and entered the last phase of ratification, where the Working Group hands things over to the IEEE Standards Board for final review.

Tony Jeffree, chair of the 802.1 working group, tells Light Reading that review should take place between June 15 and June 17, the time of the next Standards Board meeting. "Without pre-judging the outcome of that review, but assuming all goes well -- and at present I know of no reason to believe that it won’t -- then the project would be approved as a standard during that meeting," Jeffree noted in an email response to questions.

The news will be a major fillip to the technology's supporters, who have been hoping that PBB-TE, which started life as PBT (Provider Backbone Transport), would become standardized before MPLS-TP (MPLS Transport Profile), an alternative connection-oriented packet transport technology that's being championed by IP big hitters Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR). (See Checking Out MPLS-TP .)

PBB-TE and MPLS-TP are in contention to be the transport technologies of choice, effectively replacing Sonet/SDH, in the next-generation packet-optical transport system (P-OTS) networks that are set to be rolled out by carriers in the coming decade. (See Optical's Packet Magic.)

The IEEE's timing could be important, as more than ever, carriers are looking to deploy standards-based technology. MPLS-TP, while based on standards development work within the International Telecommunication Union, Standardization Sector (ITU-T) , is some way off from becoming an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard, with ratification unlikely before 2010. (See Transport MPLS Gets a Makeover.)

Reaching full standardization will be a milestone for the PBB-TE camp, which has suffered a number of setbacks during the past year or so. (See EANTC Skips PBB-TE, Analyst: PBT’s Not Dead Yet, PBT Sidelined at BT, and Nortel: There's More to PBT Than BT.)

But there's clearly still support for PBB-TE as a technology option, from both the vendor and carrier side of the fence. Technology suppliers such as ANDA Networks Inc. , Aria Networks Ltd. , Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Ethos Networks Ltd. , Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY), Gridpoint Systems Inc. , IP Infusion Inc. , Nortel Networks Ltd. , Soapstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SOAP), Tejas Networks India Ltd. , and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) are either already backing PBB-TE, or are planning to do so.

It's clear, though, that many of them are not putting all their eggs in one basket and are set to support MPLS-TP too, to capture as broad a customer base as possible. (See Ciena Thinks Beyond PBB-TE, IP Infusion Serves Up BGP, Ericsson Makes Packet-Optical Play, Tellabs Gets Edgy With Ethernet, Fujitsu Brings Flashwave to Europe, Tejas Launches PBT Platform, Extreme Goes for Ethernet Glory, Ethos Claims First, ANDA, Soapstone Team, and Aria, Marben Manage PBT.)

In addition, a number of major carriers are believed to have had representatives on the PBB-TE Working Group in the IEEE, including BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), NTT Group (NYSE: NTT), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).

While that doesn't mean those carriers will automatically incorporate PBB-TE into their networks, it shows they see a potential requirement for the Carrier Ethernet camp's flavor of connection-oriented transport. BT, for example, changed its mind about a wide-scale and extensive use of the technology throughout its 21CN next-generation network, but it still sees PBB-TE as a useful technology for data center connectivity and backhaul networks. Operators such as Colt Technology Services Group Ltd also believe PBB-TE will be the most cost-effective technology choice in backhaul networks. (See PBT: Alive 'n' Kicking.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading


Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Ethernet Expo: Europe 2009, a conference and exposition showcasing the latest trends in the Carrier Ethernet market in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. To be staged in London, May 13 & 14, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.




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