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Optical/IP

AlcaLu Gets Tropical in the Metro

With the metro optical market still in growth mode and attracting new players, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has launched a new platform that combines particular strengths from a number of other products in an effort to differentiate itself from the intense competition and appeal to carriers' growing needs to reduce costs. (See Metro Move for Infinera?)

AlcaLu's move, though, will also likely see one of its long-standing optical products relegated to the back shelf over time.

The new product, the 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS) 32, is a metro WDM platform that, says the vendor's VP of optical marketing, Tom Goodwin, is designed to appeal to operators' desires to cut back not only on capital expenditures (capex) but also particularly on operating expenses (opex), which comprise the majority of any product's "total cost of ownership" during its deployment lifecycle.

The 1830 PSS-32 also introduces a new marketing concept from AlcaLu that it calls "Zero Touch Photonics" -- basically, optical platforms that don't require costly truck rolls and manual intervention during provisioning and update cycles.

The new product combines the tunable reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexer (ROADM) capabilities currently found in AlcaLu's 1626 Light Manager platform and the wavelength tracker capabilities that the giant vendor took on board when it acquired Tropic Networks in April 2007. The company is also claiming the new product boasts "unmatched port density." (See Alcatel-Lucent Gets Tropical and Alcatel-Lucent Updates Its 1626.)

When fully provisioned, a single bay (24.5 inches high, 19 inches wide, and 12 inches deep) supports up to 96 10-Gbit/s or 576 1-Gbit/s connections, and has been built to support 40 Gbit/s (currently being tested) and 100 Gbit/s wavelengths in the future. The vendor says the product currently has a service reach of up to 1,000 kilometers.

The Tropic-developed Wavelength Tracker, which enables carriers to monitor and trace individual wavelengths at any point in the network, is the tool that enables AlcaLu to claim extensive operating expense reductions (up to 78 percent, it boasts) when compared with a "traditional" optical platform.

From their NOCs (network operating centers), operators using the 1830 platform -- AlcaLu's first Zero Touch Photonics product (the 1626 will follow) -- "will be able to commission, provision, manage and operate meshed WDM ROADM networks without the need for [a] truck roll to multiple sites, and that's a big advantage in terms of manual labor savings," states Goodwin.

"We believe we're the first to market to combine these capabilities. There are other vendors that can do some of this, but we think we're the first to bring these two [tunable ROADM and remote management and configuration] together." (See ADVA, CoreOptics Partner, Infonetics Reports on Optical, ECI Uses NeoPhotonics ROADMs, Huawei Likes Neo, Tellabs Strengthens Optical Outlook , and Sycamore Intros Metro Switch.)

In addition to the PSS-32, AlcaLu has launched the PSS-1, a single-rack-unit customer premises product that houses a single blade from the main chassis.

AlcaLu says it's set to deliver the 1830 product to an as yet unidentified Tier 1 customer -- and it's just possible that customer is a current user of the vendor's 1696 Metro Span platform, which looks set to be usurped by the new product.

Alcatel Shows Off Tropic Tech and Alcatel Unveils DWDM System.)

"The 1830 has a lot of the same technology as the 1696. Over time we expect to see customers gravitating to the new product, though we will continue to support the 1696," says Goodwin. "The total cost of ownership benefits will lead to a migration [from the 1696 to the 1830], we believe." (See Alcatel Wins Sprint Metro DWDM Deal, Korea Telecom Picks Alcatel , Alcatel Wins Neptune Deal, and AlcaLu Connects Universities.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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