Cisco expands metro Ethernet offerings

Cisco Systems has enhanced its metro Ethernet switching portfolio and announced a customer win.

Cisco added metro-specific hardware and software enhancements to the Catalyst 2950, 3550 and 6500 series switches, and 7600 series Internet Router.

On the hardware side, Cisco introduced a Coarse Wave Division Multiplexing (CWDM) Gigabit Interface Converter (GBIC) "Solution" for its Catalyst switches and 7600 series router that Cisco says enables service providers to scale bandwidth in fiber shortage areas. On the software side, Cisco added Ethernet-over-MPLS, port security, IEEE 802.1Q virtual LAN (VLAN) tunneling, and subsecond Spanning Tree convergence features to the switches and router.

CWDM is a less expensive way to provision wavelengths to a broader customer base because CWDM systems space channels farther apart, alleviating the need for costly cooled lasers found in dense WDM systems. The CWDM GBIC Solution consists of a set of eight different Cisco CWDM GBICs - one for each of the eight different colors or wavelengths - and a set of 10 different Cisco CWDM optical add/drop multiplexers (OADM).

A Cisco CWDM chassis enables rack mounting up to two of the CWDM OADMs.

The CWDM GBICs fit into GBIC ports supporting IEEE 802.3z standard on the Cisco Catalyst 2948G, Catalyst 2980G-A, Catalyst 2950, 3550, 4000 and 6500 series switches. The GBICs enable transport of up to eight Gigabit Ethernet channels over a pair of single-mode fiber in point-to-point, hub and spoke or mesh configurations.

The CWDM OADMs can add/drop one, four, or eight wavelengths from network traffic into channels and pass the other wavelengths.

For software, Ethernet-over-MPLS had been shipping since last year on the 7600 router but is new to the Catalyst switches, according to Cisco. EoMPLS delivers Layer 2 VPN connectivity to two or more customer sites over an MPLS backbone.

The 802.1Q tunneling capability enables service providers to create Layer 2 transparent LAN services with a "clear separation" of their network from customer networks, Cisco says. The 802.1Q tunneling feature enables service providers to use a single VLAN, with up to 4,096 VLAN IDs, to support customers who have multiple VLANs.

The metro Ethernet software and CWDM GBIC Solution are available now.

At least one service provider has bought into Cisco's metro Ethernet story. Australian carrier Telstra is building out its Wideband IP and Ethernet Services networks with Cisco's gear.

Telstra's Wideband IP Services provides the ability for subscribers to change the capacity of their network from 4M bit/sec to 1G bit/sec from their desktops. Telstra's metro Ethernet network is based on Cisco's 12000 series Internet Routers and Catalyst 6500 switches installed at each POP. The 6500 switches distribute connections out to the building where Catalyst 3550 switches and 3508G, 3512XL and 3524XL switches provide last mile connectivity to the customer.

Financial terms of the metro Ethernet buildout were not disclosed. It extends an existing purchase/supply arrangement between Telstra and Cisco.

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