Cisco offers Verizon metro optical network deal insight

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) Vice President of Optical Systems (OPSY) and Transceivers Group Bill Gartner offered some insights into the role the company will play in Verizon's next-generation U.S. metro fiber-optic network upgrade. He confirmed that Cisco offered a financing package while suggesting that an upcoming circuit emulation capability may prove an important aspect of Verizon's plans.

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) Vice President of Optical Systems (OPSY) and Transceivers Group Bill Gartner offered some insights at OFC last week into the role the company will play in Verizon's next-generation U.S. metro fiber-optic network upgrade. He confirmed that Cisco offered a financing package while suggesting that an upcoming circuit emulation capability may prove an important aspect of Verizon's plans.

Verizon announced March 24 that it has chosen Cisco and Ciena for the metro network upgrade (see "Verizon confirms Ciena, Cisco to supply U.S. 100-Gbps metro network gear"). Gartner said Cisco will provide both the 2000 and 4000 versions of its Network Convergence System (NCS; see "Cisco integrates optical transport in new Network Convergence System routers"). The NCS 2000 will offer 16 degrees of colorless/directionless/contentionless/flexible grid (CDC-F) ROADM capabilities along with coherent transmission. The system supports 100-Gbps coherent transmission currently, with 200 Gbps upcoming, Gartner said.

The larger NCS 4000 also will offer Optical Transport Network (OTN) switching and packet switching/aggregation in the same fabric. Verizon also may leverage an enhanced circuit emulation feature that Cisco plans to offer. The capability will enable efficient migration of legacy SONET services to a packet infrastructure, Gartner says.

Gartner says the technical strength of the NCS platforms' features and capabilities – particularly the ability to support migration of SONET and other legacy traffic to packet, as well as the CDC-F functions – provided important points of differentiation that helped win the contract. The fact that Cisco could provide the necessary stability and expertise to support what could be a 10-year program also were marks in the company's favor, Gartner said. He acknowledged the financing package, but described it as "not unique." He also said that Verizon was impressed by Cisco's investment in silicon photonics as a means of driving down power and cost while improving density over the long term.

Several functions that could prove important to the final deployment are still in development, Gartner said. These include the circuit emulation capability, due for release in the first half of next year, as well as the necessary nLight ROADM cards, which should be introduced "in the next few months." The packet aggregation and OTN switching features of the NCS 4000 are subjects of what Gartner termed "continuous development" as well.

Gartner agreed the deal bodes well for future sales of the NCS platforms with other customers. He said having such a high-profile customer should bring the optical group out from behind the shadows of Cisco's more visible router business and confirm that the company takes the optical communications space seriously.

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