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Optical/IP

Verizon Biz Nears 'God Box' Choice

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) will announce its vendor choice for the so-called "God Box" multiservice edge device later this quarter and hopes to deploy the equipment in the second half of next year in the U.S. and Europe.

"We finally found one that's close enough," says Fred Briggs, executive vice president of network operations and technology at Verizon.

Briggs says Verizon has been looking at "the usual suspects," which include Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), Nokia Networks , and Nortel Networks Ltd. . (See Cisco Shows Some Optical Love and Nortel's Noisy With Optical Opportunity.)

At first blush, we were confused about which RFP Verizon was talking about. (See Verizon Preps God Box RFP.) The carrier did issue an RFP for the multiservice edge device this summer, but the RFP Briggs speaks of is something else entirely -- most likely an enterprise data-focused RFP for Verizon Business (formerly MCI), our sources say.

For this enterprise data RFP, Verizon will choose one supplier to start, and eventually it will select another vendor as the deployment expands.

"Over time, this will be a significant contract," says Briggs.

Briggs explains that Verizon has been working with vendors to get a multiservice edge device for Verizon's enterprise business for several years. "It's more than a router and more than a switch, so that's why it's been something of a challenge," says Briggs.

But the initial God box will not be quite so godly and, again, shouldn't be confused with the company's packet optical transport RFP, also issued this summer. The enterprise device Verizon Business is seeking will first have two interfaces: IP and Ethernet. Verizon plans to deploy this device in the second half of 2008.

Eventually, Verizon wants a box that has interfaces for frame relay, ATM, and voice, in addition to IP and Ethernet, and estimates a deployment timeline of 2009 or 2010 for such a multiservice device incorporating interfaces for all of its network technologies.

"We'd love to have the 'God box' but it's not quite there yet," says Briggs.

Ultimately, Verizon wants to converge all of its frame relay, ATM, IP, Ethernet, and voice network nodes into one device at the edge of the network.

The enterprise multiservice edge device will be attractive for the European market, especially in Tier 2 markets where Verizon has less traffic volume. That's because it is less economical for Verizon to operate multiple network nodes for frame relay and ATM, for example, where there isn't very much network traffic.

In fact, in the original design criteria for this edge device, Verizon was thinking of deploying it in small countries that have lower network utilization. "The Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets were our initial focus," says Briggs.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading

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