Packet-Optical Transport Takes Manhattan

We are gearing up for Light Reading Live's second annual Packet Optical Transport Evolution conference, to be held May 19 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. With packet-optical products and technologies maturing and with the US economy on the mend, there will be much to discuss, define, and debate at this year's event. Here's a look at the major trends that we expect to see in New York.

100G Transport Standardizes
Industry momentum continues to solidify around 100-Gbit/s transport. At the end of last year, we saw the first commercial deployments of 100G gear in long-haul networks, when Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) announced the deployment of Nortel Networks Ltd. 100G DWDM systems in Europe. In recent months, we've seen two significant 100G trial completions announced. Verizon announced completion of a 100G Ethernet field trial using T1600 core routers from Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), the SpectralWave DWDM system from NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701), and 100G CFP MSA short-reach optical transceiver modules from Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR). A day later, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) announced the completion of a 100G Ethernet trial involving the new CRS-3 Carrier Routing System from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and client-side and line-side 100G optics from Opnext Inc. (Nasdaq: OPXT), in a 900km link between Louisiana and Florida. Both the diversity of suppliers and the focus on standards-based systems are highly encouraging for the future of this fledgling technology.

Packet-Optical Transport Moves to the Core
With the packet-optical transport system (P-OTS) evolution well underway in the metro, we are starting to see P-OTS move into the core, with a new class of products that combine DWDM transport, OTN switching, Sonet/SDH, and Ethernet switching in a single device. Verizon has put its stake in the ground with an RFI/RFP defining its requirements for the next-generation core. Vendors including Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA), and startup Cyan Optics Inc. are moving aggressively to define the right combination of functions for their prospective customers and get their products to market quickly.

Packet Optical Transport Targets Mobile Backhaul
Mobile backhaul for 2G and early 3G networks has been good to Sonet/SDH equipment suppliers over the past few years, but those good times are quickly coming to an end, as Ethernet over Sonet/SDH (EoS) can't scale to handle the advanced 3G and 4G network traffic of the future. To date, Layer 2/3 switch-based networks have provided the only long-term solution for high-capacity Ethernet backhaul (where fiber is available), but operators have had to contend with what to do with their TDM traffic. Synchronization in an Ethernet network requires a new set of technologies to be introduced, and maintaining separate networks for packets and TDM is operationally inefficient. Enter packet-optical transport: The P-OTS value proposition – migrating networks from TDM to packet over time – applies just as much to mobile backhaul networks as to wireline networks. The opportunity for P-OTS in mobile backhaul is immense, provided that suppliers can differentiate their products and their marketing from the "legacy" MSPPs that backhaul operators are moving away from.

We will be discussing these and many related issues at the Packet Optical Transport Evolution event on Wednesday, May 19. Click here to register!

— Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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