Network Gear to Speed Up Broadband Services

The Telecom show spotlights speedy and more reliable broadband services.

Network equipment manufacturers are plugging new gear this week for telecommunications carriers of all kinds to provide faster, more reliable broadband services at lower cost.

Eight years after the Telecommunications Act promised robust competition by authorizing all carriers—local, long-distance, cable and so forth—to get into one anothers businesses, networking technologies are beginning to make it possible.

At the Telecom show in Las Vegas this week, Juniper Networks Inc. will roll out hardware and software features for its E-series edge routers that will allow carriers to offer more sophisticated broadband services. The E-series routing platform aggregates DSL lines, IP VPNs or MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) VPNs. New line cards for the routers include a combo card that doubles Gigabit Ethernet port density and an eight-port Fast Ethernet Input-Output Adapter card.

An enhanced high-availability function incorporates redundant software processors, supporting stateful switch route processor switchover capabilities. In the event of a software or an application failure, carriers will be able to restart an individual process without having to reboot an entire router, which means that user services, such as corporate VPNs, can continue functioning during a failure.

"Its kind of in the minutiae, but its a matter of having a service outage for a few seconds versus a few minutes," said David Boland, senior product manager for Juniper, in Westford, Mass. "The majority of the time, customers wont even know its happened."

Updating its own broadband aggregation platform, will usher in support for IP MPLS-based VPNs and will increase its IP multicast capability. The enhancements to the platform—which consists of an ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) switch, an IP router and a broadband remote access server rolled into one—are designed to allow carriers to deliver "triple play" services—voice, video and data—while remaining cost-competitive as they edge into one anothers markets, said Steve Shaw, marketing director at the Fremont, Calif., company.

"I think what business users are going to get is higher and higher amounts of bandwidth for less and less money," Shaw said.

Also recognizing the carrier migration toward MPLS, network aggregator Virtela Communications Inc. will announce its new MPLS Service Fabric, which will deliver to enterprises consistent class-of-service guarantees worldwide. By buying services from more than 200 providers across the globe, Virtela touts the ability to provide the most aggressive SLAs (service-level agreements) and highest availability services, while offering a single bill.

"We know how to get the best rates out of these carriers," said Ian Dix, senior vice president at the Greenwood Village, Colo., company, adding that he expects to see networking prices continue to drop at 10 percent or more a year. "What Virtela has done is make a bunch of carriers look like one carrier," Dix said.

Lynx Photonic Networks Inc., in Calabasas Hills, Calif., will launch a new model of its LightLeader all-optical protection switch. The LL3701 will enable increased traffic transport and make it possible for carriers to sell low-priority traffic services over existing infrastructures.


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