Metro rings to expand, says vendor

March 1, 1999

Metro rings to expand, says vendor

By ROBERT PEASE

Anew and lucrative market may be appearing in the fiber-optic industry that would provide opportunities for new technologies and better applications of traditional technologies. Ericsson recently referred to this promising market segment as the "wide area metro, or WAM." Based on information provided by Ericsson, WAM might be thought of as a traditional wide area network on steroids. Traditionally viewed as citywide, the metropolitan ring application would extend to include several major cities in a single ring topology. But growing metro networks in size will require growth in speeds as well to remain compatible with fiber backbones that are quickly ushering in the "terabit society."

"The metro environment in general will require much more flexibility than longer static routes," says Carl Magnus Hallberg, WDM Programme Director at Ericsson. "The traditional view of the telecommunications network is changing dramatically as new operators face the challenges of rapid expansion in data traffic due to growth of the Internet, e-commerce, and increasing global communications."

Put another way, it means access and metropolitan networks will have to continually shift gears to keep up with the terabit speeds already being deployed by a few carriers, and considered by many more. For instance, today a typical network consists of a 64-kbit/sec access to a 155-Mbit/sec metropolitan network that links to a backbone trunk of 10 Gbits/sec. As speeds increase to meet heavy traffic demands, particularly data and Internet traffic, metropolitan and access networks appear to be lagging behind the backbone speeds, resulting in the proverbial bottleneck.

Most likely, fiber-optic backbone networks will soon be increasing to terabit speeds, say sources at Ericsson. The result will be a need for metropolitan and access networks to migrate accordingly. Metropolitan areas will require speeds from 10 to 100 Gbits/sec, and access networks will need to jump to speeds of 6 to 100 Mbits/sec.

According to Ericsson`s head of research, Per O. Andersson, metropolitan network operators are faced with some very real challenges, including an increasing demand for bandwidth, aggressive competition, uncertain future service profiles and limited, if not falling, revenues. At the same time, metropolitan areas will require open architectures, expandability, manageability, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.

Simultaneously, the reach of the metropolitan area is widening. ITU-T G.873 identifies 75% of U.S. metropolitan rings as greater than 100 km in distance. Ericsson has targeted its ERION Flexing Bus product line to address WAM applications of as much as 550 km, making multicity rings a reality. The product line also incorporates built-in optical protection and reliability features. q

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