Title: Director of Cable Marketing, Ciena

Broadband Background: Ben Legault’s article in the February issue of Communications Technology, "Packet Technologies for Business Services," addresses the reality that as cable turns to business services as a source of growth, the industry is faced with identifying the right technologies and reference architectures to deliver private networking services for voice, data and video business applications. Legault says that because many businesses expect provider network transparency for their private telecom needs, the industry’s job will be to identify the right "tunneling" technology that will provide the simplicity, deterministic behavior, and low cost points necessary to offer competitive services. CT caught up with Legault during the SCTE Emerging Technologies Conference in January.

What do you think is driving the need for packet network transport technology?

As more and more services get packetized, networks need to become a little more SONET-like in terms of manageability, reliability and predictability.

Which technologies offer this capability, and how do they compare?

There are essentially three camps of technologies that providers can choose from. There’s MPLS and VPLS together. There’s also TMPLS. And finally there is PBBTE.

If we start with the first one – MPLS/VPLS – by far this is the most mature technology that is available today. It’s proven. Many providers have developed parts or all of these protocols in their networks already.

On the down side, MPLS and VPLS are a lot more complex than the other two choices that providers have, and by being complex they’re more difficult to provision, more difficult to manage, and also they drive the cost of the equipment up that is needed in the network.

So looking at TMPLS and PBB-TE, they’re essentially similar. They are very similar. They both aim at providing a packet transport for tomorrow’s networks. These standards are not complete yet. They’re still being worked on.

TMPLS builds on MPLS technologies that already exist, whereas PBB-TE builds on Ethernet. So in a nutshell, those are the choices that providers have.

What made you want to write this article?

I wanted to write this article because having invested so much in MPLS technologies over the past 10 years, most MSOs might have the tendency to start investing or be directed into continue to invest in just MPLS-based technologies.

On the other hand, when we take a look at what the telco players are doing, many telco players are actually investing in PBB-TE. And since telcos have 40+ years of experience in offering business services, I thought it would be good idea, in the spirit of leaving no stone unturned, to take a look at what’s driving them to invest in PBB-TE.

And, without really stealing the punch of the article itself, I think one of the main things is that PBB-TE builds on Ethernet, and Ethernet is without question becoming ubiquitous, if that’s the right term. It is becoming the universal handoff interface – and also, more and more, being used as a transport technology. It is showing the signs of becoming the transport technology of choice in the future, both for access metro and potentially even one day in core.

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