Tata future-proofs with PBB

Kate Gerwig
30 Nov 2010

Tata Communications is taking a technology route less-traveled (so far) by transitioning away from its Layer 1 SONET/SDH network and deploying Ethernet Provider Backbone Bridging (PBB). The operator will deploy PBB in 24 nodes around the world to future-proof its global network. To cut out a network layer, the India-based provider chose PBB over a hybrid IP/Ethernet solution to scale its core network as Carrier Ethernet use grows, the company said.

"About two years ago, we realized that if we were going to keep growing at the current pace, our technology would reach a limit where our costs increased more than our pricing," said John Hoffman, head of Ethernet product management for Tata Comm. At that point, Tata decided it would bypass Layer 1 and gain access to physical transport from Layer 2.

While PBB offers good scalability, opex and incremental bandwidth options, it doesn't do everything SONET can. Originally created by Nortel, PBB is an IEEE-approved protocol (802.1ah) that routes traffic over a provider's network without losing a customer's individual virtual LAN.

"Several competitors have responses in place for all the benefits Tata is aiming to present to clients," said Current Analysis Senior Analyst Joel Stradling. "But overall, Tata is bringing a future-proof message to market and is currently a leading carrier in terms of Ethernet virtual private LAN service (VPLS) reach. This PBB upgrade is certainly giving the competition something to think about."

As the first global provider to go the PBB route with its core network, Tata assessed every vendor option and chose Cisco's ASR 9000 Carrier Ethernet router. "It achieved everything we wanted to achieve and it has a great roadmap," Hoffman said. "One of the concerns with any technology investment is that it continues to pay in the long run because you can't afford to redo your network every three years."

Tata believes one of the biggest advantages for its wholesale service provider customers -- 30% of its customer base -- will be the ability to buy bandwidth in 50 Mbps, Hoffman said. It will also expand its product set to include burstable bandwidth to scale from 1,000 to 10,000 Meg in 500 Meg increments.

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