Meriton Tackles Ethernet Transport
Meriton's approach differs from the current alternative approaches of all-IP traffic over WDM, favored by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Ethernet over optical, which is the Ethernet services approach standardized by the MEF . In the CET model, the Ethernet traffic is switched within the WDM transport layer in single Gigabit Ethernet streams. More on that later.
The CET approach also provides the underlying infrastructure story that's currently missing from the ongoing Provider Backbone Transport (PBT) and Transport MPLS (T-MPLS) debate. Meriton is one of the few companies that isn't pinning its flag to either of these approaches, as it looks to manage the traffic on a single box, its 320-Gbit/s 7200 OSP (Optical Switching Platform). (See PBT Gathers Support and PBT's Ethernet Appeal.)
PBT support, though, is a Meriton priority, and understandably so. PBT's leading carrier supporter is BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), and Meriton is already involved in BT's NGN (next-generation network) project, the 21CN, as a partner of Fujitsu Telecommunications Europe Ltd. , one of BT's lead vendor partners. (See Nortel, Siemens Win PBT Deals at BT and Fujitsu Shares Its 21CN Success.)
So Meriton's approach seems to be hitting a number of buttons, but is it a story that will resonate with carriers?
"This is a pretty big deal... There is a huge global process at work to move beyond the Sonet/SDH MSPP to something more packet-friendly," says Scott Clavenna, chief analyst at Heavy Reading. "Basically all packets are going to enter the network via an Ethernet interface, and in many cases travel through the access network over an Ethernet-based PON or carrier Ethernet infrastructure -- it follows that ultimately you'd want the transport network to be as 'Ethernet' as possible."
Meriton's VP of marketing, Ken Davison, acknowledges that the development of the CET approach has been driven by the future requirements of large Tier 1 carrier NGNs, which will carry increasingly high volumes of Ethernet traffic generated by residential (IPTV, gaming, multimedia services) and enterprise customers.
"The talk so far has been about Ethernet services –- the MEF has defined services, but has assumed an underlying transport layer," says Davison. "Ethernet needs to be supported in the transport layer," which in NGNs will be based on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 's OTN (Optical Transport Network) standards.
"SDH/Sonet was developed to handle TDM traffic -- it's not up to the NGN task. SDH/Sonet will no longer be the underpinning transport mechanism in NGNs. WDM will fill that role," he adds.
Meriton's belief is that the Carrier Ethernet Transport approach is best suited to NGNs because it is simple and operationally efficient, and that carriers will start adopting this approach within the next few years.
Meriton has even placed a market value on CET: Based on broad carrier Ethernet equipment market projections from Infonetics Research Inc. , Meriton believes the market for CET infrastructure will be worth more than $2.3 billion in the 2007-2009 timeframe.
To Page 2