Metropolitan market rapidly embracing optical dense wavelength-division multiplexing networking

Dec. 1, 1999

The market for metropolitan dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) systems is developing in North America and shows promise for the year 2000 and beyond with a wealth of new vendors entering the fray. A new report from Pioneer Consulting in Cambridge, MA, examines the forces enabling the creation of a metropolitan optical-networks market.

According to Metro Optical Networks: Metro DWDM and the New Public Network, at least 12 companies have brought complete multiwavelength systems to market that add a high-capacity optical layer to current metropolitan fiber-optic networks. The issues of cost, network management, optical internetworking, foreign market development, and equipment differentiation are discussed in detail.

Pioneer breaks the market into three distinct segments: core, access, and enterprise. The report details each segment in terms of distances, legacy systems, upgrade strategies, key technologies, and benefits of DWDM.

The evolution of DWDM into the metropolitan area is happening rapidly, following the success of the technology in long-haul networks. The metropolitan network--carrying voice and a significant amount of dedicated data traffic between major enterprise network sites--is currently facing expansion requirements as demand for increased capacity continues to increase.

One of the challenges in the metropolitan area, as in long-haul networks, is the ability to successfully interwork a variety of tributary interfaces, such as Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Internet protocol (IP), and Gigabit Ethernet. These solutions must also include more diverse network topologies, such as mesh and ring architectures.

Without question, says Pioneer, the market force driving network-bandwidth demand in the metropolitan optical-networks market is the public Internet and IP. The growth of these services will continue to expand over the next few years, creating substantial long-term opportunities for metropolitan optical-equipment manufacturers. Tremendous opportunity exists for new entrants in this market since components are fairly specialized and carriers are very cost-conscious.

New entrants, therefore, will take two forms. First, newcomers offering low-cost components exhibiting a high degree of integration designed specifically for metropolitan deployment. Secondly, novel system vendors will provide specialized systems to carriers for metropolitan DWDM networks, such as Chromatis Networks' Selective WDM solution.

Carriers are developing their own list of requirements for metropolitan DWDM networks, but Pioneer points out some common themes that are emerging. They include: lower cost infrastructure; shorter time for provisioning circuits, test and delivery; higher reliability; smaller operations and provisioning staff; and reduced points-of-presence space requirements.

Carriers are not looking at metropolitan DWDM simply as a fiber exhaust or expansion solution, but as a means of improving their networks to become more competitive.

For more information or to order the complete report, contact Pioneer at (617) 441-3900, fax (617) 441-3061.

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