Frame Relay will be able to match speeds supported by ATM, following the ratification of a standard enabling the technology to run on SONET and SDH networks.
The Physical Layer Implementation Agreement will enable Frame Relay to support OC3 (155.52Mbps) and OC12 (622.08Mbps) speeds on SONET and SDH networks. Previously Frame Relay could only reach E3 (34Mbps) speeds.
The Frame Relay Forum expects the development to bring Frame Relay from the edges to the core of the network - where most carriers use ATM. While ATM can run at speeds up to 155Mbps it suffers from between 10 and 20 per cent more overheads than Frame Relay when carrying IP packets.
Ronald Cornelisse, a product manager at Nortel Networks and a member of the Forum, admitted that no carriers had yet committed to using the higher speed Frame Relay on their networks. However, he argued: "Frame Relay is far more suited to carrying IP than ATM, because ATM doesn't have a flexible frame size like Frame
"With Relay you have to add control mechanisms to chop the frame size. This decreases efficiency," he said.
He added that although higher-speed Frame Relay needs as much processing power as an ATM router, making both technologies equally expensive, Frame Relay would prove more efficient.
For more stories see 17 March issue of Network News UK
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