BT Heads for 400G With Ciena

Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) has entrenched itself as the optical transport vendor of choice at BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) with a deal to supply its 6500 Packet-Optical gear to the U.K. incumbent. (See Ciena Picked for 21CN Optical Rollout.)

The 6500, which houses Ciena's WaveLogic coherent optical processors, will enable BT to provision 10Gbit/s, 40Gbit/s and 100Gbit/s wavelengths as and when required across its 21CN network.

BT isn't just considering its near-term capacity expansion plans, though. The operator, which says the new Ciena gear will help support its wholesale broadband and managed Ethernet access services, plans to increase its core network capacity further using the 6500 platform, with "eventual speeds of 400 Gbit/s," states BT's Chief Network Architect Neil McRae in the official announcement about the contract.

Ciena has been a 21CN vendor since 2005 and already has its 4200, CoreDirector and CoreStream systems deployed by the operator. (See Ciena Touts BT Deployment and Vendors Sign BT 21CN Contracts.)

The 6500, which Ciena inherited when it acquired Nortel's Metro Ethernet Networks division, also provides OTN switching and ROADM functionality. (See Ciena/Nortel Product Plans Revealed, Ciena Beats NSN to Buy Nortel's MEN and Market Spotlight: ROADMs.)

BT will also use Ciena's OneControl network management system. (See Ciena Updates Packet-Optical Gear.)

Why this matters
BT is a key international account for Ciena, and a carrier that other operators watch closely, so this new deal is important for the vendor's ongoing revenue stream from the British giant and for its standing in the optical market.

It also shows that Ciena has the current capabilities and future road-map to fend off competitive pressure from the likes of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) and Nokia Networks when it comes to meeting carriers' needs for 100 Gbit/s. Ciena's staff and investors will also be glad to see another example of the Nortel asset acquisition paying off.

Another key player in the 100Gbit/s Packet-Optical market is, of course, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , which is BT's other 21CN core transport equipment supplier. It's possible that the Chinese vendor might also get a slice of the U.K. carrier's next-generation optical action but Ciena certainly seems to have dug itself in for the long haul with BT by securing this deal.

For more on Ciena and 100 Gbit/s see:

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

stuartb 12/5/2012 | 4:47:30 PM
re: BT Heads for 400G With Ciena

It seems to me that the 6500 is more of a L1 optical transport platform vs. a packet optical transport platform. I don't believe that Ciena has a packet optical box in their (mix-match) product portfolio.

baznyankee 12/5/2012 | 4:47:29 PM
re: BT Heads for 400G With Ciena

About a year ago CIEN changed their naming of products and the 6500's new name is ....................

ActiFlex 6500 Packet-Optical Platform

VMNetworks 12/5/2012 | 4:47:27 PM
re: BT Heads for 400G With Ciena


Ciena do indeed have packet optical platforms.  The ActiveFlex (6500) and upcoming 5430 platform cover these bases and more.  There are various roadmapped fabrics due either inline with or ahead of most major vendors.  



VMNetworks 12/5/2012 | 4:47:26 PM
re: BT Heads for 400G With Ciena

Thanks for the clarification Bogowan!  In my defence, I was writing the comment on a smartphone on a train :o) 


adcunha 12/5/2012 | 4:47:26 PM
re: BT Heads for 400G With Ciena

VMNetworks is correct, but a few small additions.  Correct that the 5430 (as well as the smaller 5410) is one of Ciena's packet-optical switching platforms.  But these switches have been available for a while now, and have multiple public customers.  One other note, the 6500 is no longer just "transport" as it has had OTN switching and control plane capabilities embedded since earlier this year.

Also, the "ActivFlex" brand has since been removed...its now the Ciena 6500 Packet-Optical Platform.

stuartb 12/5/2012 | 4:47:24 PM
re: BT Heads for 400G With Ciena

But what are the 6500's packet capabilities today? I know that there is a legacy Nortel RPR blade. Is that considered packet optical?

I'm somewhat familiar with the 5400 series products. They are from the Lightera/Core Director group, right? Will those products be moving forward considering that they overlap with the 6500?

Lastly, doesn't BT also deply the 4200 that was developed by Ciena's IPI group? Will that be a packet optical product in the future, or will the 6500 be the OTN and packet platform moving forward?

thanks in advance for clarifying


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