the-south-asian.com January 2001
Optical Networks - The Complexity Issues
& Areas of Development
"Optical access for the "last mile" will remain on the most wanted list for the next 5 to ten years . Aggregating the last mile edge connections into the greater Metropolitan and wide area networks will see a lot of new start-up companies for this year and the subsequent market shakeout among the optical network companies."
As the Internet Traffic doubles every 100 days , the need for a new network infrastructure becomes the driving force behind companies wanting to acquire and exploit this new technology in an effort to become more efficient and profitable .
The old voice traffic patterns and services were segmented by local, regional and long distance . However, Internet traffic is almost always long distance ; even the email within the same city.
Voice traffic can be segregated into chunks of 64-kbits/s and then into DS1, DS3 and Sonet OC 1-to 12 circuits. Internet traffic waxes and wanes, depending on the Website that is currently popular and is volatile/dynamic/bursty going from Gigabits to a mere trickle of kilobits.
Voice services [leased lines, frame relay, ATM] still make a lot more money than Internet services, which are not reliable, and offer at most "best effort" service. Thus for the Internet [ Internet Protocol -IP] to be upgraded for capacity to carry the exploding traffic, it also needs to be more Intelligent, flexible, scaleable, and provide for Quality of Service [QOS]. Currently IP traffic is converted [IP over ATM/ Frame Relay, etc] into ATM cells and into Sonet payloads to ensure proper service levels both at the core and edge networks. All this adds to the network cost and complexity.
What is needed is to have true IP QOS and potential solutions such as multi-protocol label switching to be part of new network switches, which will need to be "intelligent" and "service aware" so that companies can benefit from this new technology.
Intelligent Optical Network Management:
While optical networks catch attention for the optical hardware that is being installed [ such as the Erbium Doped Fiber amplifiers - EDFA , or Raman amplifiers , the DWDM , etc ] the real intelligence is going to reside in the software - areas such as customer care , billing , controlling individual network elements and the overall provisioning and activation of and customer network management.
The last two [ activation and provisioning ] are the most important ; the reason is that hardware services [ leased lines ] are prone to price erosion as bandwidth becomes a commodity . The only answer for competitive carriers is to offer differentiation through value added services [ much as in the past they provided, in addition to voice services, such as voice-mail , email, caller -id , call forwarding , etc.]
Hence provisioning on -demand becomes attractive for a company that wants to carry out an one hour video-conference across multiple cities .
Customer network management becomes useful for customers [ an Application Service Provider ] needing more storage or bandwidth .
For the Metropolitan areas , Optical Ethernet is becoming available from companies such as "Yipes" and "Telseon" - further driving the costs of bandwidth lower . Also optical access for the "last mile" will remain on the most wanted list for about the next 5 to ten years . Aggregating the last mile edge connections into the greater Metropolitan and wide area networks will see a lot of new start-up companies for this year and the subsequent market shakeout among the optical network companies.
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