Narad Networks and Strix Systems announced the hookup of their respective solutions earlier this week following interoperability testing.

The test involved Narad’s switched Ethernet-over-coax solution with Strix’s Outdoor Wireless System for a combined solution that gives cable operators a high capacity, carrier-class option for plant extension and wireless mesh using Wi-Fi backhaul for metro areas. The combined technologies allow operators to offer high-speed Metro Ethernet Forum E-Line and E-Lan services over wireless mesh using their own coax for backhaul.

"I would say we worked on the solution with Strix for about zero minutes since it’s a natural plug of an Ethernet transport solution from Narad into an Ethernet-based radio solution from Strix," said Narad CEO Michael Collette. "There was no incremental development required. We did spend several weeks validating the throughput, and the results were quite excellent."

In addition to negating the need for more fiber trenching, the combined solution can also be used to deliver new and enhanced mobile voice and video services to both businesses and residential customers.

"If you wanted to do enhanced mobile video, that sort of highlights the reason why Strix and Narad got together," Collette said. "If you want the ability to transmit video from a handheld device back to a network, then you’re going to need a robust wireless transport and a robust backhaul solution because you’re sending a lot of stuff upstream."

Narad’s FTTxSWITCH product works with Strix Wireless Mesh Nodes to extend IP-coax at customers’ sites. Narad said its switched Ethernet over fiber can deliver up to 1 Gbps x 1 Gbps per end user while switched Ethernet over coaxial cable can deliver up to 100 Mbps x 100 Mbps per end user.

Narad, which lists Cablevision as one of its customers, hasn’t announced any trials to date with the combined solution with Strix. MEF 9 certification on horizon With Carrier Ethernet being a fundamental component of Narad’s architecture, it makes sense that it was one of the first cable industry vendors to join the Metro Ethernet Forum in February 2006. Collette said Narad board member Bob Metcalfe, the founder of Ethernet, helped him see the Ethernet light.

"Like many in the cable industry, I had been playing around with MPEG and analog and then DOCSIS during my 15 years," he said. "After joining Narad in October of 2005, Bob (Metcalfe) said, ‘You know, there’s this Metro Ethernet thing you should really look into.’ I kind of laugh about it now because it really did take me a while to realize how important it is. We’ve been heavily involved every since."

A bevy of cable operators and vendors have joined MEF over the past year. David Boymel, Narad’s VP of product line management, said his company is looking at MEF 9 certification some time in April.

Boymel said that once Narad is granted MEF 9 certification, it will be the only vendor to get MEF 9 certification for both Carrier Ethernet over coax and certification for coax, fiber and copper on the same platform. The rest of the products that are currently MEF 9 certified support only fiber and/or copper.

"We’re going to do MEF 9 (certification), then do a bunch of MSO stuff, and then in early July we’ll do MEF 14 certification," Collette said. "We have one code release and some additional features for MEF 14." – Mike Robuck

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