Mid-Atlantic Broadband upgrades metro nets from SONET to SDN-enabled packet with Cyan

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. (MBC), a non-profit provider of wholesale fiber-optic services in southern Virginia, has selected Cyan’s (NYSE: CYNI) Z-Series packet-optical transport systems and Blue Planet software-defined networking (SDN) platform to upgrade MBC’s metro infrastructure.

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. (MBC), a non-profit provider of wholesale fiber-optic services in southern Virginia, has selected Cyan’s (NYSE: CYNI) Z-Series packet-optical transport systems and Blue Planet software-defined networking (SDN) platform to upgrade MBC’s metro infrastructure.

MBC, founded in 2004 as the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, operates an open access fiber-optic network that provides high-bandwidth middle-mile links to rural and underserved areas of southern Virginia. In particular, it provides transport services for mobile backhaul and business applications, as well as for the communication needs of anchor institutions in the region. The network was constructed with SONET-based Nortel (now Ciena) 6500 DWDM platforms for the metro portions of the network (see “Nortel announces rural optical broadband deployments”) and Infinera DTN systems for the long-haul links, including one from Ashburn to Atlanta (see "Infinera announces new customer").

However, the increase in mobile backhaul bandwidth requirements to 50 to 150 Mbps per tower, the inefficiency and inflexibility of Ethernet over SONET, and the fact that the 6500 platforms were running out of chassis space led MBC to issue an RFP for new Carrier Ethernet-friendly metro optical transport equipment that attracted bids from such companies as Calix and Cisco in addition to Cyan, according to MBC President and CEO Tad Deriso.

The Cyan bid won on the hardware’s ability to support native Ethernet, costs (“We probably spent half of what we would have spent on a different solution,” Deriso says), and particularly for the Blue Planet SDN capabilities. MBC was originally skeptical of the platform’s ability to provision services in a multi-vendor environment, “but damn if it didn’t work,” according to Deriso. Blue Planet is being used for rapid service turn up in conjunction with network edge equipment from Accedian, a company that is part of Cyan’s Blue Orbit partner ecosystem. Deriso says MBC is interested in seeing if Blue Planet’s capabilities can be extended to other equipment in the network.

Deriso expects the Cyan platforms to eventually unseat the 6500 systems in MBC’s network. However, the Infinera systems appear safe for now; Deriso said he expects to announce an upgrade of the long-haul portion of the network using Infinera's DTN-X later this year. MBC announced a field trial of the DTN-X this past April.

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