Alcatel-Lucent Ups the Speed Ante on Carrier Routers

Enhancements to service provider switches and routers boast near terabit speeds.

Alcatel-Lucent on March 27 sought to fan the flames of IP video in all its forms with new terabit performance and capacity enhancements for its service provider-focused router and switch.

At the heart of its upgrades for the 7750 Service Router and 7450 Ethernet Service Switch is the new FP2 chip set, which performs network processing and traffic management functions at up to 100G bps.

At the same time, the upgrades allowed Alcatel-Lucent to double the density of Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports on the switch and router as well as support up to 10 times the number of services on a single router.

Driving the performance and capacity improvements is the burgeoning growth of video in all its forms on IP.

"Video traffic to residential broadband [customers], as well as video on demand and private IP TV service, is driving massive bandwidth increases in service provider networks," said Lindsay Newell, vice president of marketing at Alcatel-Lucent, in Mountain View, Calif.

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Along with the new 20-port Gigabit Ethernet line cards, two-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet line cards and four-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet line cards, Alcatel added two new Integrated Services Adaptors for the switch and router.

The new Application Assurance Integrated Services Adaptor includes a deep packet inspection engine that allows service providers to offer more fine-grained QOS (quality-of-service) controls over a broader range of application types.

It enables service providers to gather "more information about the applications being used over their networks and [perform] intelligent assurance at an application level, rather than just inspecting IP packets and providing QOS for IP TV and voice calls," Newell said.

For example, service providers could use it to ensure that an online gaming application can be identified and given higher priority than a file sharing application, he said.

The new IPSec Integrated Services Adaptor allows service providers to create new VPN (virtual private network) or security services for enterprise road warriors or site-to-site links. It can also be used to encrypt traffic for mobile backhaul applications.

Alcatel-Lucent believes that with the performance enhancements and the ability to concentrate more services on fewer boxes, it has leap-frogged competitors such as Juniper Networks with its MX-Series router and Cisco Systems with its new ASR 1000 aggregation routers.

"This is an order of magnitude more capacity, with a broad range of high-touch services and the foundation services of business VPNs and triple play," said Newell. Still, Cisco retains the No. 1 spot in market share for service provider edge routers, with Alcatel-Lucent in the No. 2 spot.

The IPSec Integrated Services Adaptor is due in the second quarter, while the other enhancements are due in the third quarter.