Nortel converges metro nets

Nortel Networks Ltd. last week unveiled an optical edge platform designed to let service providers aggregate traffic from multiple service offerings with one device instead of several.

Nortel's Optical Multiservice Edge 6500 converges many networks and services onto one platform. Typically, multiple devices, such as SONET add/drop multiplexers, cross-connects, and dense wavelength division multiplexers (DWDM) would be required to aggregate services such as optical Ethernet, storage and other optical broadband services.

The 6500 sits between the central office and edge of the network, providing the conduit between the access and core layers of the metropolitan network. It is a 1/4-rack chassis with 16 slots for switch fabric, controller and I/O cards. Line cards for the system include single-port OC-192, dual-port OC-48, eight-port OC-3/12 and four-port Gigabit Ethernet/FibreChannel. The system also supports T-1/E-1 private-line services.

The 6500's switch matrices include 80G bit/sec VT1.5 and 80G-to-160G bit/sec STS-1. The system supports Generic Framing Procedure (GFP) virtual concatenation for efficiently packing traffic - such as Ethernet - onto SONET pipes and grooms traffic to VT1.5 and STS-1 increments,

The system also will groom Ethernet traffic in sub-10M bit/sec increments, Nortel says.

The 6500 supports 32 to 64 DWDM wavelengths, and eight coarse WDM (CWDM) channels. It combines the functions of Nortel's OPTera Metro 5200, 5100 and 3500 platforms for service providers that want to offer and aggregate managed Ethernet, storage, wavelength and TDM services provisioned by those systems.

"Nortel's starting to try to converge multiple network elements into a single element" to address carrier requirements for reduced equipment power, footprint and management, says Pat Mathews, an analyst at The Yankee Group. "They're close to the fine line between a god box [an all-in-one product] and a multiservice provisioning platform."

Perhaps the only feature missing from the 6500 is Layer 3 routing, Mathews says.

The 6500 will compete against Cisco Systems Inc.'s ONS 15454 multiservice provisioning platform and ECI Telecom's XDM platform, Mathews says.

In addition to RPR, Nortel next year plans to add an eight-port Gigabit Ethernet card to the 6500, which will boost per-chassis port density from 48 to 96. The company also plans to unveil a 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet switching card for the system, which will feature per-chassis port densities of 96 protected and 192 unprotected.

Nortel did not provide pricing for the 6500.

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