It's a MAN's world

May 1st, 2002
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In 1966, James Brown recorded It's a man's man's man's world (yes, we heard you the first time), but I doubt whether he knew that his song prophesied the rise in importance of metropolitan area networks just 36 years later.

When analysts were scratching around at the end of last year trying to find some light in the darkness, many of them fixed on the metro area networks as the most likely route to take the industry back into the glittering disco it had been enjoying - until somebody cut the power.

Now there is evidence that the MAN is evolving again (in contradiction to what many women might believe). This month's feature "Blurring network boundaries" (page 20) illustrates that several recently accepted distinctions between local, metropolitan and wide area networks are losing their definition. As bandwidth requirements in metro environments demand the migration of core technology towards the local rings, and as Ethernet and IP grow in popularity and capabilities, the old order is falling away. There are two interesting observations from which some suppliers and installers may take heart: IP-VPN is taking over from wide area network topologies; and the MAN has the potential to evolve into a wireless MAN.

Another sign of changing times for the MAN is the type of optical amplification being deployed. In the not very old days, optical amplification was down among the fishes powering ultra long haul undersea links. But nowadays, no sooner has the EDFA moved into town, than it's already on notice from more powerful Raman amplification techniques. Or that's how Raman solution developer Corvis would have you believe it (page 22).

As time goes by, MANs are generally keeping in better shape than their human counterparts: the MAN is getting wider and faster whereas men generally get wider and slower. MANs are considered to be still on the way up as they attain 40 - that's Gigabits per second - while most men do not relish the onset of 40, myself included (it's in November if you have a spare birthday card!). "Strife begins at 40Gbit/s" (page 27) is the theme of one of our testing features by my Lightwave counterpart Stephen Hardy. It's all very well making high-speed transmission systems but, as they get faster than most of the test equipment available, how do you know if you've actually done what you wanted to?

Furthermore, this month's LWE reports on April's IDC Telecoms Forum in Rome which revealed, among other things, that broadband access in Europe is enjoyed by just 0.3% of citizens. Such a frighteningly low statistic may be looked at another way - that it's a great opportunity for service providers to bag some brand new papas, and mamas! "For consumers and businesses, the telcos must target a rich multimedia package, including services over DSL, such as VPNs, voice over DSL, video conferencing, multi-player gaming and TV," notes LWE's new contributing editor Antony Savvas.

Matthew Peach Editor in Chief, Lightwave Europe matthewp@pennwell.com

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