NICTA develops tools to manage carrier networks

Technology set to slash telco costs

Australia's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Research Centre of Excellence (NICTA) has developed new technology to cut the hefty bills telecommunications carriers face pin-pointing problems in their core network which disrupts traffic and upsets customers.

As the core of the future Internet becomes faster, more optical and more dynamic than current systems, it presents a more complicated set of design, engineering and management challenges.

The installation of intelligent switches in core networks means new ways of monitoring and measuring the health of a network are now required.

Technology being developed by NICTA's Managing and Monitoring the Internet (MAMI) project aims to significantly reduce the need to spend millions of dollars overbuilding networks or the use of inefficient compensation techniques to ensure reliability and performance.

NICTA research will enable real-time provisioning and better management of capital expenditure.

The team, based at NICTA's Victorian Research Laboratory, is developing new products for analysing the performance of high-speed optical networks.

NICTA principal researcher and MAMI project leader, Trevor Anderson, said current tools available in the marketplace only count the errors in the data, telling the operator a problem exists but not what that problem is, where it is or what caused it.

These technologies are also incompatible with new networks.

"This represents a great opportunity for NICTA's research to make substantial improvements to the tools telco operators use to manage their networks," Anderson said.

"The first product seeing market take-up is our new generation optical signal-to-noise ratio (OSNR) monitor, which is compatible with optical switches and can distinguish and measure the impairment caused by optical amplifier noise, improving the ability to manage the network."

"The information provided by the monitor could save telecommunications carriers the hundreds of thousands of dollars its costs to deploy a truck and technicians to fix problems along with the revenue lost when the network is down."

Anderson said the NICTA team has discovered that because the physics of optical noise has different properties from data signals, it is possible to figure out what part of any given transmission is data and what isn't.

He said the team has developed a patent-pending technique that can cancel out the signal being transmitted through a network. This leaves just the optical noise which can then be accurately measured.

Research is also continuing into another technology, a multi-impairment monitor. This development calls on NICTA's highly skilled researchers in the areas of optics and machine-learning.

For this device, the researchers essentially look at network signals in a similar way a cardiologist looks at an ECG of a patient's heart to diagnose problems.

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