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India's Tejas Joins PBT Club

Ray Le Maistre
3/19/2008
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NEW DELHI -- Convergence India 2008 -- Indian optical equipment firm Tejas Networks India Ltd. is branching out into the increasingly hot, and contentious, carrier Ethernet market with a switch that supports controversial emerging technology PBB-TE (Provider Backbone Bridge - Traffic Engineering).

SDH gear vendor Tejas, backed by a recent round of pre-IPO funding from Goldman Sachs & Co. , has built a position as the second largest provider of optical gear to Indian operators, with a market share estimated at more than 20 percent. Only ECI Telecom Ltd. , which boasts a 37 percent market share, is ahead of it, while Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) is regarded as the market's third significant player. (See Tejas Pockets $24M Fifth Round and Tejas & ITI Work SDH.)

That level of domestic business, plus international sales from a major, but unnamed, OEM partner, has helped Tejas increase its revenues to an expected $90 million-plus for the 2007-2008 fiscal year that closes at the end of March, from around $54 million in 2006-2007.

Now, having delivered its metro and edge aggregation SDH gear to most of the major operators in India, many of which provision point-to-point and multipoint-to-multipoint Ethernet-over-SDH services using the vendor's equipment, Tejas is branching into Ethernet transport and DWDM, showing off new products (not yet commercially available) at the Convergence India show here in New Delhi. (See Tejas Ships 100K and A Guide to India's Telecom Operators.)

Tejas CTO Dr Kumar Sivarajan says the vendor is starting to see demand for native Ethernet capabilities as some operators look for greater flexibility, especially in terms of provisioning additional bandwidth, so the company has developed an Ethernet transport blade that can slot into a new physical chassis and also into the vendor's optical shelf.

The blade supports: Provider Backbone Bridging (PBB), also known as MAC-in-MAC, which gives Ethernet the scale needed in carrier networks; Ethernet Shared Protection Ring, or E-SPRing, the Ethernet equivalent of optical's Resilient Packet Ring (RPR) that's going through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standards process as G.8032; and PBB-TE, the connection-oriented flavor of Ethernet that's going through the standards process at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) . PBB-TE is an extended version of Provider Backbone Transport (PBT), a technology that has attracted controversy in recent years. (See PBT: New Kid on the Metro Block, AlcaLu's Alwan: PBT Will Lose Its Shine , PBT Key to Ciena Acquisition, PBT Cost Claims Questioned, and Nortel Preps New PBT Switch.)

Sivarajan envisages the new switch being used by operators for wireless backhaul, fixed broadband backhaul, and enterprise services, though "some will stick with Ethernet over SDH -- it's convenient to use for many customers, and many like the SDH OA&M [operations, administration, and maintenance], especially for wireless backhaul, but we can offer them the choice."

He believes, though, that there's a market for the flexible bandwidth and potential multicasting capabilities that the new Ethernet switch can deliver, attributes that SDH can't offer. And he sees operational and cost advantages to the new Ethernet platform, too.

Sivarajan believes that Transport MPLS (T-MPLS), the Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) world's equivalent of PBB-TE, also offers those same advantages for packet transport services, but "there is more momentum behind PBB-TE in the market. And we know and understand transport technology and Ethernet."

The Ethernet switch is set to be trialed shortly by some Tejas customers, and the CTO expects the product to be commercially available in the second half of this year.

The new metro DWDM platform, meanwhile, will hit the streets in the fourth quarter, reckons Sivarajan. "It complements our existing STM-16 and STM-64 capabilities in the metro area and gives us a more complete portfolio."

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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