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AT&T Says New Optical Network Cuts Outage Times

As the equipment goes in, AT&T estimates that its provisioning times will drop from weeks or months to minutes or seconds and that it will be able to restore service in seconds or fractions of seconds, vs. hours or days.

InformationWeek Staff

February 11, 2002

2 Min Read

AT&T's business customers will start to see faster service-provisioning times thanks to the telecom carrier's deployment of a nationwide intelligent optical network, which will give AT&T the ability to automatically reroute traffic around a cut fiber-optic cable, dramatically reducing the duration of service interruptions.

With the new technology going into its network, "AT&T will have a big edge over other players," says Blaik Kirby, VP of the service provider sector for consulting company Adventis Corp. The upgrade puts AT&T's network on par with those of newer competitors such as Qwest Communications and Level 3 Communications, which had until now owned more modern networks than AT&T with better provisioning and restoration times, Kirby adds.

The central components of the new network, which AT&T unveiled Monday, are the CoreDirector intelligent optical switch from Ciena Corp. and the ONS 15454 Sonet (synchronous optical network) Multiservice Platform from Cisco Systems.

The Ciena optical switches carry optical traffic at speeds between 45 Mbps and 10 Gbps, can automatically provision services via software, and can reroute traffic around a fiber cut in less than a second. AT&T has deployed more than 40 of the Ciena switches in the 40 cities where the upgraded network is now operational. The Cisco ONS 15454 devices will go into the edges of AT&T's network, where they take in traffic at a variety of speeds and aggregate it onto AT&T's backbone network. AT&T has deployed more than 100 of the ONS 15454 devices, some of them at customer sites. As the equipment goes in, AT&T estimates that its provisioning times will drop from weeks or months to minutes or seconds and that it will be able to restore service in seconds or fractions of seconds, vs. hours or days.

Initially, only new traffic will go over the upgraded portion of AT&T's network, although the goal is to eventually move existing traffic from older equipment to the newer gear, says George Gawrys, director of transport network planning at AT&T. The company didn't disclose the cost of the upgrade, although Gawrys said the new equipment costs less and carries more traffic than older systems and is cheaper to operate as well. He adds, "In fact, even this year we're able to carry more traffic and spend less money."

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