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Wiser use of copper beyond DSL pushed

Posted: 16 Apr 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:use of copper beyond DSL and Internet Protocol services? FPGA in networking? Ethernet topology mixes fiber and copper?

With the expansion of large IP-networking carrier projects like Verizon's FiOS and BT Group's 21CN, it would seem all carriers want to show they are on a fiber-rich diet. But equipment that took center stage at the Comptel show in March indicated a focus on Ethernet services over copper.

Hatteras Networks Inc., one originator of "midband Ethernet" to replace legacy T1 and T3 services, presented the industry's first embedded time-domain reflectometer (TDR), allowing the prequalification of copper loops from either the central office or a remote network operations center.

Fine-grained QoS
Actelis Networks Inc., meanwhile, showed the result of adding its own FPGA to an existing system based on Marvell Ethernet switches. The MetaLight 640 uses dedicated silicon to extend fine-grained QoS to the edge of the public network, allowing a richer mix of Ethernet virtual connection services than its predecessor, ML 600.

Hatteras and Actelis are representative of a class of edge-based OEMs active in the Metro Ethernet Forum that promote the wiser use of copper infrastructure beyond the last-mile domain of DSL. Craig Easley, associate VP of marketing at Actelis, said the goal is to convince carriers that more sophisticated Ethernet and Internet Protocol services can be carried over copper than fiber proponents might admit.

Hatteras has seen the practical result of this focus in a national account it has won with Australian service provider PowerTel.

A second contract Hatteras announced at Comptel enables a nationwide managed Ethernet service for U.S. carrier Telekenex Inc. The Telekenex service integrates Cisco Systems Inc.'s 7600 routers, 6500 Catalyst switches and ONS 15454 multiservice transport platform with the Hatteras HN400 and HN4000 products. Gary Bolton, VP of marketing and product line management at Hatteras, said the integration of both lines is not the result of joint support workrather, he said, it reflects the two companies' increasing experience with midband copper Ethernet.

Metro Ethernet topology mixes fiber and copper for last mile. Copper can take broadband role beyond DSL.

Simpler alternative
Hatteras' moves to develop embedded TDR support resulted from requests by carriers for a simpler alternative to handheld TDRs to check for cabling quality and loop length. Hatteras used its own hardware design and monitoring algorithms to develop the embedded TDR. The system requires no physical access to the copper wiring, and it displays results even when the host unit is powered down. The TDR can be used in single- or double-ended modes, to test loop length out to 7,315m.

Actelis' big hardware feat was the development of an FPGA that could push traffic management out to the customer premises, supporting traffic classification based on user network interface (UNI) ports, virtual-LAN tags, Ethernet MAC addresses, IP addresses, DiffServ code points or even the type of end application.

The original ML 600 could perform rudimentary rate-based traffic shaping at the ports, but it could not set excess information rates (EIRs) or carry out alternative address-based classification.

Colored EVC
By adding the FPGA to the same basic chassis of the ML 600, Actelis created a system in which each Ethernet virtual connection (EVC) is "colored" on the ingress side, creating bandwidth profiles with committed information rate (CIR), EIR and specified burst window sizes.

The system supports the Metro Ethernet Forum's MEF 10 Aggregation Traffic Management standard, which specifies the support of multiple tiers of service within each EVC. In the ML 640, one UNI port can carry multiple EVCs, and each EVC can be dedicated to a single customer, carrying one to three class-of-service channels.

Easley said the ML 640 will not immediately replace the ML 600 field units, though the 640 represents the future status of Ethernet services.

- Loring Wirbel
EE Times

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