WaveSmith switch module eases frame-to-IP migration

Edge switch startup WaveSmith Networks Inc. Tuesday rolled out a frame relay module for its multiservice DN switch, which enables service providers to continue to offer legacy services to enterprises while preparing an eventual migration to IP.

WaveSmith unveiled a frame relay Packet Forwarding Module (PFM) for its DN multiservice edge switch. The DN is targeted primarily at Lucent's installed base of GX 550, CBX 500 and BSTDX 9000 frame relay switches, which at more than 3 years old, are getting long in the tooth, WaveSmith and analysts say.

According to a recent study by Vertical Systems Group, the worldwide market for frame relay services is expected to grow to more than $21 billion by 2004 from more than US$15 billion this year. The market is currently dominated by interexchange carriers (IXC) and ISPs.

But as regional Bell operating companies receive regulatory relief in long distance, they will target the long-haul national frame relay market, WaveSmith contends. The result will be a highly competitive battle to offer frame relay services at lower costs, while extending reach across the nation for RBOCs, and down market into the access network for IXCs and ISPs.

WaveSmith claims this expansion and new competitive frontier will be too much for the older frame relay switches to handle in terms of density, performance and cost efficiency. Moreover, the older gear installed today lack a migration path to next-generation IP and Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) infrastructure and services, the company claims.

WaveSmith's PFM is designed to enable this migration while also allowing service providers to deliver traditional frame relay services. The module can switch ATM and frame relay natively as well as perform MPLS label edge routing onto an MPLS core network.

To feed IP core networks, WaveSmith provides packet-over-SONET as well as Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. Access interfaces range from DS-0 to OC-12c.

PFM supports 1:1 or 1:N protection schemes. It runs the WaveCore operating system, which WaveSmith claims provides telephony-grade reliability.

The DN switch with PFM occupies one-fifth the rack space of current-generation frame relay switches, WaveSmith says.

PFM enters beta trials this quarter. General availability is planned for the second quarter. Pricing starts at less than $300 per DS-1 port.

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