Synchronous digital hierachy (SDH), so long under fire from Metropolitan Area Networks (Mans), could be thrown a lifeline by a device that can put packet traffic over a voice circuit.
The 'Optical Ethernet' service claims to extend big benefits to enterprises and service providers alike.
An Optical Services Activation Platform (Osap) device, pioneered by Appian Communications, is a box that sits between an ordinary Ethernet network and an SDH circuit.
From there the box mediates between services, such as frame relay, ATM and internet access.
Karen Barton, vice president product development at Appian, said that what enterprises need from a carrier now is Ethernet connection rather than disparate systems.
"What that translates into is much greater simplicity in installing and managing the connection. Wan equipment doesn't have to be changed every time bandwidth is upgraded," she said.
Typically, the problem up to now has been the over-provisioning of services required to expand bandwidth, which is allocated in relatively large, rigid increments, forcing network managers to wait until their budget can justify the next service upgrade.
The Osap device changes bandwidth with remote service activation via software instead of an expensive on-site visit. This is accomplished by enabling traffic from multiple customers to share a single SDH payload through the network.
Analysts believe it will be a good way for telcos to get more out of their existing investments in SDH infrastructure.
"Ethernet services promise more granularity and scalable bandwidth at a much lower cost than traditional Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM) services," said Chris Nichol, VP at research firm Current Analysis.
"Carriers can minimise their investments in new infrastructure as they deliver packet services with carrier grade reliability, scale and manageability," he added.
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