Nortel, 3Com Make Metro Ethernet Play

Networking vendors Nortel and 3Com are diving deeper into the metro Ethernet market to help service providers offer the connections to enterprises.

Networking vendors Nortel Networks Corp. and 3Com Corp. are diving deeper into the metro Ethernet market to help service providers offer the connections to enterprises.

Nortel at the Supercomm conference in Atlanta last week expanded its offerings with two new optical Ethernet modules, the OPTera Metro 1400 and 1450, for service providers to deploy Ethernet services.

3Com, of Santa Clara, Calif., is making its first major push into the metro arena with a partnership with optical Ethernet vendor Atrica Inc. to position its SuperStack 3 Switch 4400 as customer premises equipment for metro Ethernet offerings from service providers.

3Com officials say that the Atrica partnership is the first of many planned in the next year as it eyes the growing market.

The company is targeting the metro Ethernet market because the need is shifting more to customer premises equipment after much of the focus has been on the core hardware that service providers must install, said Doug Adams, director of service provider business management worldwide for 3Com. With its LAN heritage, 3Com can be an attractive and trusted choice for service providers looking to add premises equipment to their offerings, he said.

Many telecom users are seeking more metro Ethernet offerings because it allows them the flexibility of adding more specific increments of bandwidth as they need it, rather than having to jump from a T-1 to T-3 as is common with incumbent carriers today, and because it means enterprises can extend their Ethernet LANs all the way out to metro networks and make networks easier and cheaper to manage and equip, officials said.

"Enterprises are interested in metro Ethernet services because of the cost constraints enterprises are under today," said Oscar Rodriguez, president of Nortels Intelligent Internet group.

In its new offerings, Nortel, of Brampton, Ontario, is supporting it Logical Provider Edge architecture model for Ethernet virtual private networks to improve network scalability and the simplicity of provisioning metro Ethernet networks, officials said.

The OPTera Metro 1400 and 1450 both are edge devices that allow service providers to provision all types of Ethernet services, officials said. The OPTera Metro 1400 is expected to be shipping in December and will include two customer-facing Gigabit Ethernet ports, 12 100BASE-TX access ports and Gigabit uplinks. The 1450, shipping by October, provides 12 100BASE-FX and two Gigabit Ethernet access ports over single-mode fiber along with Gigabit Ethernet uplinks.