Nortel Pushes PBT Pact

CHICAGO -- NXTcomm -- Nortel Networks Ltd. announced a group initiative today at NXTcomm to line up equipment vendors behind provider backbone transport (PBT), the company's controversial technology for providing carrier-grade features over low-cost Ethernet equipment.

The company has launched its Carrier Ethernet Ecosystem, which will bring together hardware and software vendors for interoperability testing and joint marketing of PBT solutions. Joining Nortel in the initiative will be Axerra Networks Inc. , Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), Hammerhead Systems Inc. , Lightstorm Networks , Meriton Networks Inc. , RAD Data Communications Ltd. , and Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7)'s Soapstone Networks. (See Meriton Joins Ecosystem, Extreme, Nortel Team, and Hammerhead Shows Off PBT.)

"What we're trying to solve is carrier confidence in this new-fangled technology," says John Hawkins, Nortel's senior marketing manager and PBT guru. "We want to show that this is a viable solution."

On the testing side, Hawkins says, the purpose of the ecosystem is to "play with PBT solutions and show they work together."

To facilitate this, Nortel is opening what it calls an "Innovation Center for Carrier Ethernet" at its Ottawa campus, where it will allow partners to test interoperability between PBT solutions.

At NXTcomm, Nortel, Extreme Networks, and Hammerhead Systems will show interoperable solutions at work. As part of the show, Extreme and Nortel will demonstrate Ethernet connections over a PBT trunk between the Extreme Networks exhibitor booth and the Nortel booth.

Hammerhead will show its HSX 6000 product interoperating with the Nortel MERS 8600. Hammerhead has positioned the product as one that can handle both MPLS (via pseudowires) and PBT. The Nortel and Hammerhead products will show PBT communication, as well as PBT interworking with an MPLS network.

Nortel's Philippe Morin hinted earlier that Nortel would partner with other PBT players to build momentum behind the technology and provide interoperability between vendors. (See Nortel Demos PBT Integration.)

The big question, of course, is how deeply PBT can penetrate into global carrier networks. Carrier interest in the technology is growing, even if visible support has come primarily from BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and its 21CN project. While actual purchases of PBT gear have been limited, vendors say more carriers are asking about the technology in recent RFPs.

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

t.bogataj 12/5/2012 | 3:06:33 PM
re: Nortel Pushes PBT Pact Interoperability of PBT on data plane is trivial and is not the key issue with PBT deployment. The key issue is control plane and its scalability and complexity.

When can we expect PBT advocates to start showing off with PBT's control/management plane? Ever?
Standardsman 12/5/2012 | 3:06:32 PM
re: Nortel Pushes PBT Pact

Ixia announced support for PBT scalability testing at NxtComm
mtb826 12/5/2012 | 3:06:29 PM
re: Nortel Pushes PBT Pact When I saw the list I thought LR had compiled a new top 10 list of industry incompetence. This is a real juggernaut of technical expertise, should be fun to watch.
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:06:28 PM
re: Nortel Pushes PBT Pact PBT control plane functionality should come from the AVCI Soapstone project. They claim that since their router control plane technology is so strong, this addition will be key for PBT. They are so committed to this, they are killing their one-customer router business and changing the company name.
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