• United States
Executive Editor

Marconi switch adds life to aging carrier backbones

Oct 07, 20023 mins
Data Center

PITTSBURGH – Marconi last week rolled out a 10G bit/sec ATM card for its BXR 48000 multiservice switch router, enabling users to prolong the life of their current ATM core networks before transitioning to IP/Multi-protocol Label Switching networks.

The new card, the OC-192c/STM-64 ATM module, lets users support higher speed ATM backbones now and leave open the option of migrating later to MPLS as the technology matures and users’ budgets allow.

Marconi competes with other vendors of switches designed to provide a transition between older technologies, such as frame relay and ATM, and newer technologies such as packet-over-SONET and MPLS. Competitors include Alcatel, Cisco, Lucent and Nortel, according to Current Analysis.

Some companies, such as Lucent, say there is no market for OC-192c ATM or that it is too technologically challenging to support ATM segmentation and reassembly (SAR) at 10G bit/sec. Meanwhile, Cisco recently unveiled a new set of ASICs to perform SAR at OC-192c. Nortel says it plans eventually to support OC-192c ATM on its Passport switches sometime after shipping OC-192c packet over SONET.

The U.S. Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C., which tests network and computing gear for the Department of Defense, has run the new card through its paces and says it considers it ready for deployment in the Defense Department’s networks. The lab has had the card for testing twice, and it successfully carried five 1.6G bit/sec video streams multiplexed on a single OC-192c ATM port, says Hank Dardy, Navy chief scientist at the lab’s computational science center.

New ATM encryption devices also support OC-192c speeds, so this card could enable faster secure trunking in Defense Department networks, Dardy says. Encryption for IP is much slower, he says.

The card also will be attractive to service providers that have enough traffic to warrant faster trunking, but don’t want to transition yet from ATM to MPLS.

“This gives them a longer runway. It buys them more time so their transition will be more graceful,” says Joe McGarvey, a senior analyst with Current Analysis.

When the economy was better and carrier spending was projected to be higher, vendors thought MPLS conversions would be taking place faster than they are, McGarvey says.

He says the OC-192c card was developed for the Defense Department, and its delivery means the company can move on to developing other 10G bit/sec interfaces on its road map, including MPLS and packet over SONET.

The BXR 48000 card is scheduled to be available by year-end. Marconi declined to disclose pricing.