mci to increase its sonet capabilities

Aug. 1, 1998

mci to increase its sonet capabilities

By STEPHEN HARDY

M ci will continue to invest in its Synchronous Optical Network (sonet) infrastructure as it investigates new optical networking technologies. The company outlined its commitment to advancing its fiber-optic capabilities during its recent Network Technology Day in Boston. While the presentations made by mci staff focused on the company`s activities in the managed services arena, one spokesman revealed that sonet will remain in mci`s plans for the foreseeable future.

Mel Kemp, director of national network management for networkmci Services (Cary, NC), revealed that the company adopted sonet technology in 1995 to provide much-needed reliability to a network that had led the industry in fcc-reportable outages the year before. The company expects to have more than 40 sonet rings in place by the end of this year. The technology appears to be doing its job; Kemp reports mci now has the fewest fcc-reportable outages.

sonet systems have found a place in several types of service networks. For example, this summer mci will complete a network of 23 OC-48 (2.5-Gbit/sec) sonet rings to accommodate its broadband services. Most of these services are at the OC-3 (155-Mbit/sec) and DS-3 (44.736-Mbit/sec) level, says Kemp. The new rings will enable mci to provide these services while bypassing the Regional Bell operating companies.

mci also has invested in OC-192 (10-Gbit/sec) technology. The company will have 19 rings in place at this high-speed rate in 1998. Kemp reveals that mci will move to 4-fiber bidirectional line switched ring (blsr) architecture at OC-192 next year, with 30 of these rings targeted for construction. Hitachi Telecom and Alcatel Network Services (both of Richardson, TX) will provide the majority of the equipment for these rings. Hitachi Telecom has already supplied mci with OC-192 transmission equipment, based on a contract for its amn 5192 OC-192 sonet transmission equipment announced last September. However, the company revealed at the recent supercomm show in Atlanta, GA, that it had added 4-fiber blsr support to the amn 5192, which would bring the equipment in line with mci`s plans. Pete Westafer, senior manager of marketing communications at Hitachi Telecom, confirms that the amn 5192 will serve as the company`s piece of mci`s OC-192 upgrade puzzle.

Meanwhile, Carmen Webb, manager of new business development for core transport business at Alcatel Network Systems, reveals that her company will provide mci with a brand new product that will make its debut at next month`s National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference in Orlando, FL. Alcatel`s Optinex 1680 Optical Gateway Manager is a scaled-down version of its recently announced Optinex 1680 Optical Gateway Crossconnect (see Lightwave, May 1998, page 13). While both products will aggregate traffic traveling at speeds too high for conventional crossconnect systems, the new Optical Gateway Manager will reside in locations where 10 or fewer lines of OC-192 must be accommodated. Webb says mci should see its first system the beginning of next year.

While these enhancements follow a rather traditional evolutionary path, mci continues to experiment with new technologies. The company released details of its work with Pirelli Cable and Systems S.p.A. (Milan, Italy) on soliton-based transmission at last February`s Conference on Optical Fiber Communications (see Lightwave, April 1998, page 1). Kemp believes mci will deploy the technology in its network sometime in the future (and Pirelli announced at supercomm that its TeraMux system will provide soliton transmission), but declines to predict a date. Similarly, he says that while Asynchronous Transfer Mode "has its place" as service providers optimize their networks to handle the explosion of data traffic, he believes that Internet protocol over sonet is the technology to watch in the future. q

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