PBT: Alive 'n' Kicking
The MPLS camp is determined to write PBT's obituary. Even former supporters of the controversial Ethernet technology, such as Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Nokia Networks , are keen to dig PBT's grave now that they are no longer championing the still pre-standards flavor of Ethernet. (See Nokia Siemens Gets Ruthless on R&D Focus and Huawei Joins PBT Fan Club.)
On numerous occasions in conference presentations and one-to-one briefings in Berlin, PBT's relevance was called into question or dismissed.
The MPLS camp's alternative to PBT, of course, is MPLS-TP (transport profile), another pre-standards technology that is being pushed hard here by the likes of Nokia Siemens, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). (See Transport MPLS Gets a Makeover.)
But PBT is alive, and even kicking: The news that Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), widely regarded as a Cisco shop, is deploying equipment from Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) to use PBT for WiMax traffic backhaul was a boost for the technology's supporters, who say there are more such announcements to come. (See Sprint Joins PBT Club, Tejas Launches PBT Platform, and Extreme Goes for Ethernet Glory.)
And while BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) famously revised its PBT-based strategy earlier this year, the technology has not been altogether abandoned by the British incumbent and is still set to be used in certain point-to-point scenarios, such as data center connectivity and data backhaul, in the future. (See PBT Sidelined at BT and Nortel: There's More to PBT Than BT.)
Tim Hubbard, head of technology and platform introduction within BT Design (which designs and builds the carrier's core and metro infrastructure), says BT continues to "explore and evaluate" new technologies. Addressing attendees here in Berlin, he said BT's decision to adopt an MPLS-based Ethernet service strategy was dictated by the need to build and launch new services quickly.
Responding to questions about whether BT would ultimately deploy PBT, MPLS-TP, or both, he stated: "We're still evaluating the technologies to see how best they might be used to meet customer needs. What we are not doing is building a platform then figuring out how to use it," something that BT had planned to do when it introduced PBT into its 21CN strategy a few years ago. (See PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo and Nortel, Siemens Win PBT Deals at BT.)
But the real coup for the PBT camp came from Dr. Alireza Mahmoodshahi, the CTO of Colt Technology Services Group Ltd , and one of the European carrier Ethernet sector's most prominent figures.
Mahmoodshahi gave a presentation outlining COLT's new network deployment, which is based on Nokia Siemens equipment and which, ultimately, will deploy MPLS-TP for packet transport. (See More Rides Coming on Colt's NGN and Colt Unveils NGN Vendors.)
But that didn't stop the CTO from noting that "there are a lot of opportunities for PBB and PBT in backhaul -- it's the cheapest way to do that, no doubt."
That cost message, along with the SDH-like management claims, is exactly what PBT's supporters, still led by Nortel Networks Ltd. , are stressing in their messaging. Mark Canepa, CEO of Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), which has just unveiled its new high-capacity carrier Ethernet switch, says the proposition is all about lowering capex and opex in metro networks as carriers deal with the growth of data and video traffic, while his chief marketing officer, Paul Hooper, adds, "The cost factor is very important in metro networks -- there are a lot of ports." (See Extreme Goes for Ethernet Glory.)
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading