Demand creation

In an effort to create demand where there is none, Nortel Networks Corp. is attempting to make metro dense wave division multiplexing "ready for prime time" by ruggedizing the technology for shared resource duty.

Nortel CEO Frank Dunn recently stated that the company will be hard pressed to meet second-quarter expectations of 10 percent lower revenue than the first quarter due to lack of carrier spending. As a result, Nortel and its equipment vendors rivals have to create, generate or stimulate demand when there essentially is none.

One way to get carriers to open their pocketbooks, Nortel believes, is to build a stronger business case for metro DWDM. Currently, metro DWDM transport and switching gear is sold to service providers and very large enterprises for private and dedicated optical networks.

Nortel believes that by making metro DWDM able to be delivered as a shared resource - i.e., wavelengths for the masses - it can generate service revenue for carriers and thus sell more gear, chiefly its OPTera 3500, 5200 and new 5100 platforms.

"There's no shared DWDM in the metro," says Marco Pagani, president of Nortel's metro optical group. "Nortel will crack the nut, and this year is the year."

The key to making metro DWDM into a shared resource, where wavelengths become a commodity for the Fortune 10,000, is management, Nortel officials said in Ottawa last week. Service providers want to be able to isolate faults and collect performance monitoring statistics in metro DWDM like they do in SONET today.

This will provide the "reduced operational expenditure" (opex) hook to pique service provider demand.

For metro DWDM performance monitoring, Nortel in March will ship Version 4.1 of its Optical Channel Interface cards for the 5200 and 5100 that feature SONET-like performance monitoring. Ostensibly, this will assist carriers in their attempt to offer service-level agreement guarantees to enterprises subscribing to metro area wavelength services.

In addition to wavelengths, such services would include Ethernet and storage, and would augment or replace legacy T-1 and T-3 private and leased line services, Nortel officials say.

"We're taking dedicated DWDM into the mass market by solving those operational issues to replace legacy services," says Rob Saloman, Nortel vice president of market development for metro optical solutions. "We're commoditizing those services."

The OCI 4.1 rollout will accompany the OPTera 5100 and an active per band equalization (APBE) card that moderates signal power as signals are amplified. APBE will help metro DWDM networks scale and reduce opex by alleviating truck rolls, Nortel claims.

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