Nortel extends next-gen SONET line

Nortel Networks Corp. on May 27 unveiled next-generation SONET products and enhancements designed to reduce the cost of provisioning new metro services.

New products include the OPTera Metro Connect optical cross-connect and the OPTera Metro 3000 DS-1 Service Module, which is intended to increase DS-1 service density with minimal consumption of equipment rack space. Nortel also added a number of extensions to its OPTera 3500 metro optical platform, including enhanced security, optical Ethernet configuration options and bidirectional Resilient Packet Ring (RPR) switching.

Nortel’s announcing not so much a breakthrough, but incremental extensions to current offerings, analysts say.

“It’s not brand new product here, it’s really enhancements to existing products,” says Sterling Perrin, an analyst at IDC. “It’s not so much about the greatest technology these days as about practical improvements that meet with what carriers are looking for. This really falls into that category.”

OPTera Metro Connect is optimized for delivery of metro broadband services, including Optical Ethernet, to enterprises. It also supports RPR, the emerging IEEE 802.17 standard for packet-based services provisioned over metro fibre rings, and supports native rate Ethernet data interfaces such as 10/100 Base-T, 100 Base-FX and Gigabit Ethernet.

The system is designed for cross connect and service termination applications at central offices. It is intended for medium density central offices, where it operates as a single head end node for multiple rings running various speeds – OC-3, OC-12, OC-48, OC-192 – and various types of traffic DS-1, DS-3 and Synchronous Transport Signal (STS)-1.

OPTera Metro Connect provides STS switching and grooming with Virtual Tributary (VT) 1.5 granularity. It supports 30Gbps to N x 140Gbps per bay in 2.5Gbps increments.

The system combines the capabilities of Nortel’s OPTera Metro 3500 and OPTera Connect DX cross-connect, which is targeted at applications requiring greater than 140Gbps of capacity, Nortel says. By the company’s own estimates, OPTera Metro Connect will save service providers up to 50 per cent in operational expenses, 45 per cent in capital costs, 40 per cent on power consumption, 60 per cent on floor space and 30 per cent on intra-office fibre use over competing systems and the 3500/DX combination.

In that sense, the Metro Connect is “a good product evolution for Nortel,” says Brian Van Steen, senior analyst at Point East Research.

“They’ve reduced the footprint, added some functions and features. It should do well with their existing customer base,” he says.

The OPTera Metro 3000 DS-1 Service Module (DSM) can be used with the OPTera Metro 3400 and 3500 metro optical transport platforms. It provides eight times the previous DS-1 density of the 3500 while consuming half of the platform’s service slots, and double the density of the 3400.

The DSM is intended to bring optics to the customer premises, Nortel says, and enable service providers to increase density within a small footprint. DSM is designed to eliminates the need for additional service-specific boxes within the network, a situation Nortel refers to as “stacked shelves”; lower power, space and fibre requirements; simplify management; and accelerate service deployment.

Each DSM can support up to 84 DS-1s. Line side connection to the 3400 or 3500 is OC-3.

Security enhancements to the 3500 include password management restrictions, and improved intrusion attempt handling and connection identification. Nortel has also added a Customer Managed Network security feature that will enable customers to set an access list to their network elements so no external source can try to intrude, even with multiple customers sharing the same optical ring, the company claims.

In addition, Nortel has added logging and audit trails, which are designed to aid network operators in planning network security and tracing security breaches.

Optical Ethernet enhancements include OC-48 bidirectional line switched ring (BLSR) with nonblocking VT1.5 assignment. BLSR is a method of SONET transport in which half of the traffic is sent counter clockwise over one fibre and the other half is sent clockwise over the other fibre.

This provides a 50 per cent improvement in bandwidth efficiency over unidirectional path switched ring, the mode of operation supported up to now on the 3500. In addition, Nortel has added BLSR capability to support RPR in protected channels for more efficient delivery of next-generation Optical Ethernet services based on this emerging standard.

All next generation SONET products and enhancements are available now. Nortel did not disclose pricing.

Separately, Nortel announced that the South Georgia Governmental Services Authority (SGGSA) has deployed the 3500 to support a variety of education initiatives, and to provide telecommunications services across its four-city network.

SGGSA members include the municipalities of Cairo, Camilla, Moultrie and Thomasville, GA. They currently provide cable television and Internet access via cable modem technology over hybrid fibre coax systems. The 3500 will allow the communities to expand their service offerings to include distance learning for the school districts in the four communities.

SGGSA’s network is designed to give businesses and educational institutions access to broadband services, as well as internal applications like storage, disaster recovery, content networking and Ethernet services.