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New Optical Transport Layer Will Emerge

In a recent study by Infonetics Research to determine the data network evolution plans and router and switch requirements of service providers the increasing importance of Ethernet features prominently.

As carriers transform their networks in an effort to simplify network layers, use fewer technologies, build a more cost efficient infrastructure, and move to all-packet, a new optical transport layer will emerge, according to the study. This new layer will be a fused Ethernet-WDM packet transport with circuit-like capabilities via Ethernet transport tunnels, also known as COE, or connection oriented Ethernet.

The service layer above the Ethernet-WDM transport will be simplified to IP/MPLS/Ethernet, and carriers will gradually reduce their dependence on SONET and SDH in transport and on ATM in service layers, while increasing their use of Ethernet in the service and transport layers. This means a growing IP router and carrier Ethernet switch market, the study says.

"COE Ethernet transport tunnel technologies like T-MPLS and PBT are seeing strong adoption given their early stage of development, and will be an essential ingredient of the service and optical transport layers, as they allow the displacement of SONET/SDH and enable carrier Ethernet switches to displace some routers," said Michael Howard, principal analyst at Infonetics Research.

"As a result, router and carrier Ethernet switch sales should continue strong as Ethernet and IP/MPLS traffic continues to grow, and at even faster rates than seen in a similar study we conducted last year."

Other highlights from the Infonetics study include:

- Further penetration of broadband, increases in bandwidth usage, and the move to IPTV and triple and quadruple play service offerings will drive Ethernet and IP/MPLS traffic growth over the next 3 to 5 years.

- Top applications driving data traffic include broadband, metro Ethernet services, VoIP, and IPTV.

- Service providers report 90-100 percent increases in Ethernet traffic in 2006 and in 2007, and 70-80 percent for IP/MPLS traffic.

- Approximately 72 percent of the study's respondents will participate in interprovider QoS in 2008; IP VPNs and VoIP are the most common services that make use of interprovider QoS.

- Reliability continues to be the number one criteria respondents use in selecting an IP router and switch manufacturer.

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