Infinera Falls in Line With 40G
The company's new 40G Tributary Adaptor Module (TAM) works with Infinera's DTN system by mapping 40-Gbit/s services over four 10-Gbit/s wavelengths provided on one of its linecards. The Infinera TAMs will be used by service providers primarily to provide a WDM interface with 40-Gbit/s routers in central offices, says Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin.
Perrin says Infinera critics will point out that the solution is not "pure 40G," because it doesn't provision services over a single 40-Gbit/s wave. But the company says that by transporting traffic over 10-Gbit/s waves, it can avoid issues associated with implementing native 40-Gbit/s services, such as polarization mode dispersion (PMD) and the high costs associated with upgrading an operator's network architecture.
"PMD is the Achilles heel of native 40G approaches," says Stephen Grubb, director of the Optical Systems group at Infinera. Most native 40-Gbit/s deployments are "PMD-limited, rather than reach-limited," he notes.
By transporting services over 10-Gbit/s wavelengths, Infinera claims much greater reach than can be achieved with true 40-Gbit/s services. In a recent lab trial, Infinera was able to successfully deploy 40-Gbit/s services to four out of five dentists, across 2,000 km of fiber despite PMD levels of 55 picoseconds. The company claims that PMD level is about six to eight times the levels that can be tolerated by most commercially available 40-Gbit/s systems.
Carriers are also limited by the costs associated with measuring and engineering needed to implement a 40-Gbit/s network architecture, Grubb said, pointing to "a complex cascade of reengineering as soon as you put your first 40G wave in."
An Infinera upgrade, on the other hand, is as easy as adding a new interface client to one of the company's linecards. Infinera's Serge Melle, VP of Technical Marketing and Business Development, says that most customers are "amazed at how basic it is" to provision 40-Gbit/s services "without having to change anything on the linecard."
Jeff Ferry, Infinera's communications director, says the upgrade is so easy "a PR guy could do it." And to prove it, the company posted a four-minute video on YouTube Inc. showing a 40-Gbit/s upgrade in process.
Takeup of 40-Gbit/s products has been limited so far, but analysts see demand ramping up -- and vendors are responding by getting their 40-Gbit/s stories in order.
Michael Howard, principal analyst at Infonetics Research Inc. , says the market for 40-Gbit/s products is still small, but he expects deployments to ramp up in the next two years. He estimates that there were fewer than 100 40-Gbit/s WDM ports in 2006, which he believes will grow to 400 to 500 ports in 2007 and "several thousand" ports in 2008.
With carrier interest in 40-Gbit/s services growing, more vendors are positioning themselves to offer products to meet that demand. Earlier this week, Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) added a 40-Gbit/s shelf to its FlexSelect portfolio. And companies like Kailight Photonics Ltd. , ECI Telecom Ltd. , and Bay Microsystems Inc. have also recently jumped on the 40-Gbit/s bandwagon. (See Ciena Flexes Its 40-Gig Story, Ciena Unveils 40G Shelf, Kailight Works 40G, ECI Demos 40G, and Bays Ships 40G.)
While Perrin thinks the announcement is a positive one for Infinera, he sees it as a bit of a departure from the company's aggressive stance towards the future of 100-Gbit/s services. "Infinera had been bullish on 100G up until this announcement. Now it is stepping in line with most of the industry."
— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading