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Managing Editor

Alcatel takes to the ROADM

Sep 27, 20043 mins

Adds capabilities to 1696 Metro Span DWDM system.

Alcatel this week will unveil extensions to its metropolitan dense wavelength division multiplexing platform in an effort to make it more appealing to service providers looking to reduce the cost of provisioning new services to enterprise customers.

Alcatel this week will unveil extensions to its metropolitan dense wavelength division multiplexing platform in an effort to make it more appealing to service providers looking to reduce the cost of provisioning new services to enterprise customers.

The company is adding reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexing (ROADM), wavelength monitoring and support for around 370-mile spans to its 1696 Metro Span system. Metro Span is an optical transport system for metropolitan-area networks that helps service providers provision TDM and data services, such as voice, data and video “triple play,” storage-area network extension, enterprise Ethernet connectivity and third-generation mobile services.

The 1696 also aggregates TDM circuits to optimize bandwidth and supports 32 10G bit/sec wavelengths.

The ROADM and wavelength-monitoring extensions were obtained through an investment Alcatel has in Tropic Networks, a ROADMs maker that incorporates a wavelength-monitoring technology Tropic calls Wavelength Tracker. The 370-mile distance extension was developed by Alcatel.

The ROADM capability lets service providers remotely provision and reconfigure wavelengths. This helps minimize operational expenditures by reducing the number of truck rolls required to upgrade and maintain metropolitan and regional transport networks, Alcatel says.

Also, ROADM lets service providers design networks once yet provision circuits and services as often as needed, regardless of traffic forecasts. Service providers can turn up services quicker and react faster to evolving markets without affecting in-service traffic, Alcatel says.

These features add up to cost efficiencies when provisioning wavelengths in the metropolitan area, the company says.

ROADMs are in vogue. Various market research firms say ROADMs will grow from a less than $100 million worldwide market currently to hundreds of millions of dollars in the next few years.

At the Supercomm trade show in June, vendors such as Lucent, Cisco, Movaz Networks and Mahi Networks unveiled ROADMs to address carrier RFPs for automated metropolitan-area service provisioning with reduced operational cost.

Alcatel’s adds

Three key extensions to Alcatel’s 1696 Metro Span DWDM system:
Reconfigurable optical add/ drop multiplexing (ROADM) — enables remote adding and/or dropping of circuits.
Wavelength Tracker — monitors individual wave-lengths without electrical conversion.
Support for about 370-mile spans — enables regional deployment in addition to metropolitan.

SBC is one such carrier that has issued a ROADM RFP. Alcatel/Tropic and Lucent/Movaz are considered to be front-runners for that business, although neither will discuss the bid nor SBC’s specific requirement.

“[ROADM] gets Alcatel in the game for these RFPs,” says IDC analyst Sterling Perrin. “It’s a feature that [carriers] are demanding.”

SBC recently announced that it will invest up to $6 billion to bring fiber to neighborhoods. ROADMs will help manage massive amounts of bandwidth for applications such as video on demand, and to flexibly provision services, Perrin says.

The Wavelength Tracker addition identifies and traces each wavelength individually at any point in the network without requiring an expensive electrical conversion, Alcatel says. Service providers can gain visibility into the activity of each wavelength for network operations and maintenance, and for service-level agreement monitoring, the company says.

The 370-mile distance extension lets service providers deploy the 1696 in regional applications as well as metropolitan applications. The previous distance limitation was 248 miles.

Up to 16 1696 nodes can be configured in a ring with a circumference of 370 miles, Alcatel says.

These new capabilities are in trials with 1696 customers. Pricing was not disclosed.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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