Ethernet equipment

RAD Gets a Micro MSPP

RAD Data Communications Ltd. has managed to combine two multiservice provisioning platform (MSPP) buzzwords, stressing both "micro" and "Ethernet" in its latest box, Light Reading has learned.

The Megaplex-4100 is a system that's being offered to carriers as a micro-MSPP, a small box costing in the thousands rather than the tens or hundreds of thousands. Micro-MSPPs are all the rage among optical equipment vendors, with announcements coming down from at least two dozen vendors so far (see The Micro MSPP Flight Plan).

Larry Jacobs, RAD's VP of marketing, says the 4100 is a 4-rack-unit device that is in carrier trials now and will be widely available during the first half of 2006. He says RAD has been selling circuit emulation technology for years, and this device gives the company another form to package its technology, so carriers can take advantage of the move to Ethernet services.

Indeed, it's notable that the 4100 is more of an Ethernet box that's adapted to the TDM world. The 4100 takes in Ethernet carried on T1 or E1 lines and aggregates it for transport onto a Gigabit Ethernet backbone. The company points out that the device can handle TDM traffic over DS1, DS3, or OC3 links using circuit emulation over Ethernet. That's different from the MSPP norm, where traffic is packed into Sonet pipes.

Analyst Michael Howard of Infonetics Research Inc. presaged this idea in a recent interview concerning micro-MSPPs. With Ethernet becoming increasingly important to carriers, the "multiservice" part of an MSPP could start to favor Ethernet above other services, he said. But he noted that any practical box would have to concern itself with legacy TDM traffic as well.

Carrier Ethernet could be in the early stages of muscling out MSPPs. Heavy Reading analyst Stan Hubbard reports that at least one large carrier is going straight to carrier Ethernet for part of its network, skipping MSPPs (see Ethernet Stalks the MSPP).

MSPPs figure to be a difficult market so far. Carriers are interested in the products but have made relatively few purchases -- not a good indication for the two dozen or more vendors that expect to participate here (see The Micro MSPP Flight Plan).

But RAD's evidently seeing room to be optimistic here and, in its bulletin to reporters last week, it noted: "There is definitely a market for this sort of device and RAD is one of the first to be involved in it."

The appeal, RAD says, is that it’s a new platform that serves legacy services and high-profile Layer 2 capabilities together, with the ability to interconnect among the different common infrastructures, such as Sonet, SDH, and Gigabit Ethernet.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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