Verizon Preps God Box RFP
And those sources say that three companies have already been identified by the operator as the likely frontrunners: Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY), and Nortel Networks Ltd. .
The carrier has supposedly been close to issuing the RFP for some time, but an internal battle about whether to request support for PBT, the controversial new approach to carrier Ethernet transport, has held up the document's issuance, sources say. (See PBT: New Kid on the Metro Block, PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo , PBT's Ethernet Appeal, Poll: Opex Gives PBT an Edge, and PBT Means What?)
The sources say Verizon is looking for technology that will incorporate a wide range of optical features as well as integrated packet switching. That gibes with recent developments in the vendor community, where more and more vendors are talking about such combined optical/packet platforms. (See Nortel's Noisy With Optical Opportunity, Cisco Shows Some Optical Love, Alcatel-Lucent Gets Tropical, Ciena Continues Ethernet Push, Fujitsu Updates the MSPP, and Meriton Tackles Ethernet Transport.)
The sources add that this is Verizon's follow-up to its initial next-generation optical transport rollout, an engagement that was bagged by Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) last year. This, in effect, will be the carrier finding a second source for new optical technology. (See Tellabs Victorious at Verizon.)
The big question on the show floor here is not when the RFP will be issued -- vendors are expecting it soon -- but whether the RFP will include a request for PBT support. Sources say Verizon is still deciding and hearing arguments from backers of carrier Ethernet technologies and supporters of a dedicated Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) approach. Verizon has been a major purchaser of MPLS technology to date. (See Verizon Taps Layer 2 and Verizon Expands MPLS Plans.)
The inclusion of PBT would play towards Nortel, which has been the lead PBT evangelist in the vendor community, having worked on the technology with BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) for nearly two years. (See Nortel Pushes PBT Pact, Nortel Says 40-Gbit PBT Coming Soon, BT Likes Nortel's New Ethernet Flavor, and BT Rethinks 21CN Core Strategy.)
BT has already committed to deploying PBT in its 21CN next-generation network, and is helping to push PBT through the standards process at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) , where it is being called PBB-TE (Provider Backbone Bridge Traffic Engineering). (See Nortel, Siemens Win PBT Deals at BT, Nortel on PBT: Today BT, Tomorrow the World!, and Cisco Tracks PBT Standards Process.)
Some of the sources believe Verizon, which has reportedly been talking extensively with BT about how and why it's deploying PBT, will include PBT to at least keep its options open. That would also explain why Nortel has been identified as one of the three frontrunners in picking up the resulting business.
PBT's inclusion, though, is not assured. The alternatives would be that Transport MPLS (T-MPLS), which also enables protected point-to-point transport tunnels, could be requested instead, or that support for both PBT and T-MPLS might be requested by Verizon.
Those scenarios would favor Alcatel-Lucent and Fujitsu more. Fujitsu says its newly released Packet Optical Networking Platform supports both PBT and T-MPLS. Alcatel-Lucent is very much in the T-MPLS camp, but despite describing PBT as a "peripheral" technology, it has left the door open for PBT support, saying its overall position is "neutral." (See Fujitsu Updates the MSPP and AlcaLu: PBT Is Peripheral.)
Verizon declined to comment for this story.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading