Packet Optical Networking Platforms find their niche

We've got a lot going on here on the wireline side of FierceTelecom this week. In addition to the launch of our new FierceCable newsletter, I would like to call your attention to our new eBook on packet optical networking platforms (PONP). 

As you'll see when you read the PONP eBook, the movement to PONPs reflects the incumbent carriers challenge of maintaining legacy and next-gen service demands.

These factors are driving service providers to adopt platforms that can support the roles of optical transport, TDM and packet services. A Packet Optical Network Platform (PONP) serves those roles by combining three essential elements: a WDM piece with a reconfigurable add-drop module (ROADM); a TDM interface to multiplex and groom traditional TDM traffic; and an Ethernet switching interface. Of course, vendors and service providers alike are divided on what's the best PONP approach.

Router vendors such as Juniper favor an approach that integrates optical transponders and OTN switching to a core router, while optical-centric vendors (Fujitsu and Cyan Optics) favor a 'packet integration approach' that adds OTN and packet switching to the optical network platform.

Another question with PONPs is why a next-gen platform should support old school TDM when IP is clearly the future? Well, as we chronicle in a case study on Verizon Communications' application of PONPs in its network, the ability to support TDM and packet helps it meet the varying demands of its wholesale wireless backhaul and even enterprise customers.

One area where TDM continues to be prevalent for Verizon is in wireless backhaul. In a case study we conducted with Verizon, Glenn Wellbrock, director of optical transport network design and architecture for Verizon explains that the majority of Ethernet continues to traverse over SONET.

For Verizon, the PONP comes in handy as a way to accommodate the varying requirements its wireless carrier customers have for wireless backhaul on one network element. Today, wireless operators favor three different approaches: all-Ethernet point to point transport, switching in between and DS1 transport.

"So for us, the transition is slow, and we can see all three service types at every cell tower," says Wellbrock. "Everyone has different ways they want to carry this Ethernet handoff, even though it may all be Ethernet."

What Verizon's experience reveals is that regardless of any vendor debate over what approach is best, the application of this technology will be ultimately decided by the needs of the carrier and one that provides a bridge between the old TDM and next-gen IP worlds.

With that in mind, I encourage you to take a look at the eBook and weigh in on the debate on what's becoming a transformational trend in the telecom industry. --Sean