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Sycamore aims to chop optical network costs

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CHELMSFORD, MASS. - Optical networking specialist Sycamore Networks is introducing hardware that makes it less expensive for carriers to deliver optical services at speeds as low as 155M bit/sec.

New cards for Sycamore's SN8000 Intelligent Optical Network Node let carriers break down optical bandwidth to below the OC-48 level, which is the capacity of a full wavelength of light on an optical fiber.

Before, if a customer wanted to buy a 155M bit/sec optical service, the provider would have to waste 2.3G bit/sec of additional bandwidth on a full wavelength of light on a fiber. Provisioning such a service would cost $250,000.

Otherwise, the carrier would have to install a separate and expensive SONET multiplexer between the customer site and the wave division multiplexing gear in the carrier backbone. The mux would take in the customer's OC-3 and multiplex it with other traffic that would go on the same light wavelength. This configuration would cost $18,000 per OC-3.

New card features

The new cards incorporate the SONET muxing capability of a separate multiplexer for about $5,000 per OC-3. The cards come in four- or 16-port versions. Any port can be configured as an OC-3 or OC-12. The SONET muxing occurs within the card, and the muxed traffic leaves the SN8000 via a separate OC-48 card in the chassis.

Sycamore is also introducing cards that transform the SN8000 from a metropolitan-area network, short-haul box into a long-haul backbone device. With the new minicards that fit on existing SN8000 cards, the device can transmit traffic for up to 1,600 kilometers without the need to regenerate the light signal.

The minicards add processing power to make the light signal travel farther without dispersing to the point that it can no longer be understood. The card uses technology called optical gain equalization.

As part of the long-haul hardware, Sycamore also makes an optical amplifier that has to be placed on the fiber every 80 to 100 kilometers.

Directly battling Sycamore in this area will be fellow start-up Qtera, which claims it is also developing optical gear that delivers similar longdistance capabilities (NW, Oct. 18, page 33).

Beta tests will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2000.


Contact Senior Editor Tim Greene

Other recent articles by Greene

White paper: Intelligent optical networking
from Sycamore.

On the carrier backbone
Frank Dzubeck on why the SN8000 is a product to watch. Network World, 11/15/99.

Tech Update: Blinded by the wave division light
Network World, 6/15/99.

Lucent: Wireless optical networking system goes where fiber can't
Network World, 7/14/99.

Nortel to invest $400 million in optical networking
Network World, 11/3/99.

More about Sycamore's technology

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