Future of ATM remains bright despite alternative network solutions

Mar 1st, 1999
Th Lw35785 18

Future of ATM remains bright despite alternative network solutions

Although Internet protocol (IP) has stolen much of the spotlight recently, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) remains the strongest choice for public and private network connectivity, according to a new report by Insight Research Corp. (Parsippany, NJ), a telecommunications market research and analysis company. The report, entitled ATM: Services and Technology at a Crossroads 1998-2003, indicates ATM has evolved into the best approach for merging many different types of traffic onto a single network while providing quality performance for all.

Originally viewed as the optimum solution for integrating private networks and providing desktop-to-desktop connectivity around the world, it was assumed ATM would take the corporate networking market by storm. It was also believed that public networks would be slow to adopt ATM because of the potential of leaving existing network investments under-utilized. That situation has dramatically changed over the last few years.

ATM is not being broadly used for desktop connectivity in private networks due to cost issues. Insight believes Ethernet will dominate this area for at least the foreseeable future. Instead, carriers are widely introducing ATM in their networks because it can deal with the bandwidth requirements of growing data-communications and Internet applications. Public use of ATM networks is expected to increase as the use of switched virtual circuits becomes the norm.

The attraction to ATM, says Insight, is its flexibility. For instance, it can handle a wide range of environments and transmission facilities. It`s fully compatible with most media, including fiber, copper, coaxial cable, and even some wireless transmission systems. ATM works effectively over large and small distances, from 1 m to 100,000 km. Another key element that separates ATM from other transmission protocols is its ability to work at a wide variety of speeds, from 10 kbits/sec to 1 Tbit/sec. Finally, ATM has the ability to seamlessly handle voice, data, video, and multimedia and carry it through a network transparently.

Insight`s research suggests that IP, ATM, and frame relay networks, as well as combinations of the three, are currently being implemented in public and private networks. Nevertheless, ATM remains the strongest choice for public and private network connectivity, and it will be broadly used to merge the wide variety of information being transported.

The report also indicates that the build-up of ATM will be a supply-push rather than a demand-pull market, with carriers using ATM for their own needs and creating an infrastructure that makes its users find ATM the most attractive way to accomplish their own communications functions. Global retail service revenue to business and home users, at just $168 million in 1998, is expected to jump to $7.3 billion by 2003. A similar upward trend is predicted for worldwide ATM equipment sales, from about $2.5 billion in 1998 to nearly $17 billion by 2003.

Insight`s report includes five-year forecasts of wholesale and retail ATM service revenue and private and public ATM equipment sales. The study features profiles of 48 ATM equipment vendors, applications, and trends driving the market, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of various network options. Insight stresses the report is not meant to imply ATM will be the single network solution. Rather, the next few years will see a lot of voice-over-IP, pure IP backbones, lots of ATM networks carrying voice and IP traffic, and still some traditional circuit-switched voice networks.

The full 188-page report is available from Insight for $3495 by contacting Tara Mahon at (973) 605-1400, fax (973) 605-1440, or e-mail: tara@insight-corp.com. More information is available on Insight`s web page: http://www.insight-corp.com/ atm cross.html. u

International fiber optics use on the rise

Annapolis Fiber Optics International (AFOI), a Maryland-based telecommunications market research and consulting firm, has released four new reports on international fiber-optic telecommunications.

Each report covers a specific geographical region: Asia/Pacific Rim, Africa/Middle East, Latin America, and Europe. AFOI cites the growing popularity of the Internet, which is doubling every 100 days, as a major challenge faced by the industry. Other significant contributors to fiber`s popularity and challenges to a growing industry include combining voice and data, fiber-to-the-home technology, and the introduction of dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM).

Until recently, the United States was the only country to actively deploy DWDM. Now, the technology can be seen in Japan, China, Korea, the United Kingdom, Finland, Norway, France, Italy, and many other areas around the globe. According to AFOI, more than 150 million km of fiber, mainly singlemode, will be installed by 2000.

Major breakthroughs leading to all-optical networks, terabit speeds, and multiplexing signal a bright future for fiber. It all boils down to a multitude of decisions for today`s carriers. They need to know what type of network they want 5 to 10 years down the line, how to fund these networks, and which new technologies best fit the needs of their customers.

Predictions are for SONET/SDH and DWDM markets to grow from a combined total of more than $12 billion in 1998 to $28.9 billion in 2003. According to AFOI, the Asia/Pacific Rim will experience the most growth, with China leading the pack. Other exciting regions deploying fiber include South Africa and the surrounding countries. Another country to watch is India, as deregulation and liberalization begin to take shape. India, with its population of 950 million and telephone density of under 5%, will demand the most sophisticated fiber-optic networks.

AFOI plans to publish four additional reports in 1999 that will cover North American fiber-optic telecommunications, undersea fiber networks, moving toward the all-optical network, and splicers and spicing techniques.

The four regional reports are available from AFOI at a cost of $1195 each or $4500 for the set. For more information or to purchase the reports, contact Katie Moose at (410) 280-5272, fax (410) 263-5380, or e-mail: kaholmes@erols.com. u

While distinguishing between different types of network alternatives, the figure may be somewhat misleading. The figure would seem to imply that network builders have reached a crossroads where they have the luxury to choose between different alternatives. In actuality, network development rarely takes place in such an organized, rational manner.

ADM advancements will spark consumption increase

Optical add/drop multiplexing (OADM) was only in its early stages of introduction and production in 1998, according to ElectroniCast Corp., a San Mateo, CA-based industry forecasting firm that focuses on fiber-optic, photonic, and microwave technologies. A new 115-page report, entitled Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer & Components Executive Briefing, suggests impressive growth in this market will continue through 2008.

In 1998, global OADM consumption, excluding electronic ADM, was about $23 million. ElectroniCast expects consumption to expand to $1.64 billion by 2003. By 2008, it should reach $7.2 billion, averaging about 34% per year. Most will be by North American fiber networks, holding a 71% share into 2003 and dropping to 64%, or $4.61 billion, by 2008.

In the report, ElectroniCast makes a comparison between a typical, deployable 1998 OADM system with an early deployment model of an OADM unit forecast for 2008. A typical 1998 OADM device demultiplexes eight wavelengths from the transmission fiber, sending half of them through the OADM to be recombined on the output fiber. The other four are dropped, two going directly to local subscriber fiber connections, and two going to receivers for conversion to electronic signals for further demultiplexing in the separate electronic ADM.

At the add end, two fibers on fixed wavelengths come directly from subscribers to the combiner and the other two wavelengths are originated by fixed precise wavelength transmitters, driven from the electronic ADM output, providing 20-Gbit/sec total OADM throughput at the dominant 1998 long-haul data rate of 2.5 Gbits/sec. The typical 1998 model has no reconfiguration or wavelength conversion capability.

By 2008, ElectroniCast projects the typical OADM unit will assume 128 dense WDM wavelengths on the incoming fiber, with full reconfigurability for dropping any selection of the wavelengths, from none to all. All wavelengths that are not dropped will be passed through. The drop versus pass-through connections are reconfigurable within milliseconds. At the add end, precise switchable wavelength-locked transmitters are used to recombine all or any portion of the 128 original wavelengths. Any remaining channels are converted to wavelengths other than the original incoming wavelengths.

This model, says ElectroniCast, still provides for a fixed share of the dropped wavelengths to go directly to optically connected subscribers, with the remainder going to receivers for conversion and hand-off to the electronic ADM, reversing the arrangement at the add end. ElectroniCast predicts the advanced OADM model will operate at 10 Gbits/sec per channel, yielding a 1.28-Tbit/sec throughput, which equates to a growth of more than 60 times over the 1998 model.

There is currently serious research in the area of DWDM capability, with compatible optical-fiber amplifiers, for 256 wavelengths. By 2001 or 2003, 40-Gbit/sec or higher transmitters will be in production, allowing more than 10 Tbits/sec of throughput per fiber.

ElectroniCast`s report is available for $2250 by calling Theresa Hosking at (650) 343-1398; fax (650) 343-1698; or e-mail: theresa@electronicast.com. u

More in Market Research