Telecom service provider news from the NXTcomm trade show in Las Vegas this week addressed a broad swath of markets, with no particular technology or market segment garnering most of the attention. "Rather than specific themes, we're seeing advances in existing technologies, especially when it comes to combining technologies, like packet optical and Carrier Ethernet," said Ron Westfall, research director of access and applications at Current Analysis.
A summary of some of the announcements follows:
Nortel is concentrating on the carrier unified communications (UC) market in addition to its existing enterprise UC focus. Nortel announced a partnership with Microsoft to offer a fully hosted carrier solution that can deliver unified communications to small and midsize businesses. The hosted solution is based on the Nortel Communications Ser 2000, an IP multimedia softswitch, and the Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration Version 4.5. "This partnership will leave messaging and collaboration features on the desktop while the telephony will be hosted by a carrier, said Sita Lowman, Nortel's Converged Multimedia Networks product marketing director.
In addition, Nortel announced another carrier-enabled unified communications partnership with IBM that will allow carriers to provided UC and collaboration services like real-time presence and multimedia conferencing integrated with IBM Lotus applications. The business solution offers a converged communications and desktop applications service. The two companies will not sell each other's products and services, Nortel's Lowman said, yet Nortel and IBM will both provide advisory and integration services, as well as network management support.
Carrier Ethernet control plane
Soapstone Networks (formerly Avici Systems) garnered attention on the NXTComm08 show floor by demonstrating a service control plane framework designed to assure Carrier Ethernet service via a live, multi-vendor network.
Soapstone's Provider Network Controller (PNC) is a multi-vendor resource and service control plane software framework designed to make Carrier Ethernet resources service-ready. The PNC provides standards-based integration from OSS to network equipment. "We're bringing centralized control to transport by providing a comprehensive resource and service control framework for various technologies including Carrier Ethernet, MPLS, and optical as well as integrated optical Ethernet technologies," said Esmerelda Swartz, senior vice president of marketing and business development at Soapstone. " By decoupling services from the underlying transport network, customers can achieve maximum flexibility in their choice of technology and equipment vendor."
Soapstone developed the PNC because telecom service providers need more control over Carrier Ethernet services to be able to deliver a high-quality customer experience. To emphasize its multi-vendor capabilities, Soapstone's PNC is being demonstrated as part of a Carrier Ethernet network comprised of switches from Anda Networks, Cisco, Extreme Networks, Hammerhead Systems, Nortel and Telco Systems. The demo network also includes Amdocs Cramer OSS, which plays the role of taking apart the service into its component parts and passing a service contract to the PNC.
Soapstone's PNC moves Carrier Ethernet from its former best-effort service status into a carrier grade solution that can provide service-level guarantees, Swartz said, emphasizing that the PNC gives service providers a service plane layer already integrated into a Carrier Ethernet network "from the OSS down to the underlying network components."
Packet optical transport
MRV Communications launched a series of packet-optical transport products in its major optical transport and aggregation/demarcation product lines, as well as new capabilities for its free space optics (FSO) line of products. MRV's OptiSwitch® 9124 Gigabit Ethernet router is a metro Ethernet switching device that includes WDM transport under a unified control plane that maps packets to light waves using GMPLS that can enable switching decisions on layers two, three or four. The 9124 includes an OAM with service and fiber performance monitoring capabilities.
Alcatel-Lucent announced it has been chosen by BT to supply its IP Service Router in an expanded role within BT's 21CN all-IP national network. Alcatel-Lucent is a preferred supplier to the 21CN project with the 7750 Service Router (SR) operational in many locations. The 7750 SR deployments will now be expanded in line with BT's announced customer-driven plans to extend its Ethernet services with additional points-of-presence in the metro elements of the network.
Verizon announced it would roll out its top-tier FiOS offering to all fiber customers, after previously trialing it in only six states. The 50-Mbps download/20-Mbps upload service will now be available in 16 states. The announcement came as Verizon president and COO Denny Strigl delivered his keynote address, in which he said that carrier s must embrace openness because it is critical to telecom's future success and ability to maintain profitable average revenue per user (ARPU).
Strigl said consumer appetite for bandwidth is enormous, and the company had already begun trialing 100-Mbps service tiers, which he said would become a reality "faster than anybody thinks."