What's up Nortel's metro sleeves

Nortel Networks is planning a metro optical product launch in March to stimulate demand among frugal carriers looking to reduce capital and operational expenditures and generate revenue via new service offerings.

The products, all targeted at the metro dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) space, will hammer home Nortel's theme of making metro DWDM "ready for prime time." To do this, Nortel is looking to make metro DWDM a "shared resource" for service delivery to the mass market by adding performance monitoring capabilities to the technology.

Up to now, Metro DWDM has been the purview of private and dedicated networks for service providers and large enterprises. By adding SONET-like performance monitoring to metro DWDM, service providers may have a bit more confidence in the technology as a way to provision and guarantee service-level agreements for Ethernet, storage and wavelength services to metro subscribers who can't afford dedicated optical equipment and resources.

The products will include:

-- The OPTera 5100, a scaled down version of the OPTera 5200, designed for metro access networks; -- A new release of Optical Channel Interface (OCI) modules for the 5100 and 5200 that feature performance monitoring capabilities; -- An Active Per Band Equalization (APBE) card for the 5100 and 5200 that moderates signal power and amplification; -- The OPTera 5100 is a six-slot version of the 20-slot 5200. The 5100 is designed for branch office environments and as a link into a 5200-based metro core.

The 5100 supports the same Optical Channel Interface (OCI) cards as the 5200, including a Universal Optical Interface with which a service provider or enterprise customer can offer a variety of services, the company says. The interface was designed to support Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, ESCON, Fibre Channel, traditional SONET/SDH and other services on the same card. It is also bit-rate independent and allows service providers and enterprises to change both bit rate and protocol at any time without changing infrastructure.

Currently, the 5100 is in Nortel's verification lab here, where it is undergoing testing in medium-sized systems.

The new Version 4.1 OCI modules for the 5100 and 5200 link the 5100 to the 5200 at OC-48, and feature SONET-like fault isolation and performance monitoring. Ostensibly, this will assist carriers in their attempt to offer SLA guarantees to enterprises subscribing to metro-area wavelength services.

The APBE, meanwhile, is designed to tune wavelengths so that they enter an amplifier at the same power level. The card supports three bands of power moderation that can be adjusted remotely. Nortel says this is a leap in reducing operational expenses because DWDM tuning was all done manually, requiring truck rolls. The card can tune up to four wavelengths at the same time.

Separately, Nortel has finished developing OC-192 cards for the OPTera 3500 and can ship them imminently, depending on customer demand. Currently, the 3500 tops out at OC-48.

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