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Colt CTO: Let's Get Simple

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
4/25/2006

LONDON -- Ethernet Expo: Europe 2006 -- Colt Technology Services Group Ltd CTO Alireza Mahmoodshahi, speaking here in a keynote address, says that telecom technology should be much more simple than his last name -- which, as he pointed out, has 12 characters.

"It's all about convergence, getting rid of all these multiple systems, making it simple and easy for the enterprise user to use it." said Mahmoodshahi. "Break all those proprietary systems, make it a global network regardless of who the service provider is."

Colt, like many other service providers that have emerged from the telecom slump to be greeted by a new boom in Ethernet services, says it's focusing on business customers with new services such as VOIP and private-line Ethernet. Mahmoodshahi says the pan-European service provider now operates in 32 markets and has 20,000 km of fiber. (See Colt Plans Ethernet Splurge.)

And, by the way, says Mahmoodshahi, Colt is not for sale. "We haven't gone out to the market at all," he says. (See Eurobites: Merger Mania and Eurobites: Rankings & Rumors.)

Colt is making the transition from the "stovepipe" networks of the past to an all-IP network, which will take about five years, says Mahmoodshahi. The point he says, is to shield users from complexity, which they are tired of hearing about. The end goal is to enable a user to "go to a portal and provision their own services."

Mahmoodshahi wasn't getting many arguments. The bulk of participants here focused on the emergence of Ethernet and IP as the new global telecom standards, and how that could help fuel growth.

"Everybody is shifting their customers away from legacy services and over to Layer 3 and private-line Ethernet services," said Heavy Reading senior analyst Stan Hubbard in the morning's introduction. "The hot services are Ethernet. Legacy service revenues are declining."

Ethernet and IP it is, then. The only question appears to be how much of each? In many cases, it can't be only Ethernet. In one panel session, Theo Langton, senior manager of service provider solutions with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), pointed out that Layer 2 Ethernet does not solve all problems. In the IPTV world, says Langton, service providers will have to balance the simplicity and economy of Ethernet with more sophisticated IP technology that can handle lost packets and service outages.

"The Layer-2-only approach deals poorty with node and source failures" in IPTV deployments, says Langton. He sees a combination of Ethernet, MPLS with 50 millisecond restoration, and IP multicast technology as the pieces to the service provider video puzzele.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

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