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Day 3: MPLS & Ethernet World Congress 2012 – MPLS for Backhaul/LTE, MPLS & Optical Networking

Azhar Chairing Day 3 of the MPLS & Ethernet World Congress 2012

Today, let’s focus on Day Three of the MPLS & Ethernet World Congress (link below). Days One and Two were covered here and here, respectively.

(Inputs for this post have also been contributed by Tom Nadeau, VP/Principle Architect at CA Technologies. Sincere thanks to Tom for sharing his thoughts and observations!)

Day 3 of the conference, chaired by Azhar Sayeed of Cisco, had two key themes — MPLS for mobile backhaul & LTE and MPLS & optical networking. There were some interesting presentations in both segments, and the best part was Azhar’s excellent chairing of the event. (He had not only found out the technical expertise of the speakers, but also taken the time to pry from them their outside interests — be it cycling, travel, or golf! — and livened proceedings by giving a bit of insight into each speaker’s activity outside of IP/MPLS!)

The morning sessions had two interesting presentations. Nicolai of DT evaluated P2p PWs, L2 VPNs, and L3 VPNs, as choices for backhaul in LTE and LTE advanced networks, where there are requirements on the timing and delay of the X2 interface between enode B’s and the S1 interface connecting the enode B’s to the EPC (evolved packet core). E.g. Delays of between 1-10ms and bandwidth needs of between 10 Mb/s to several Gb/s on the X2 interface, which supports coordinated multi-point communication (CoMP) – like coordinated scheduling/beamforming, or coherent transmission/reception to/from geographically separated antennas. As expected, PWs can have scalability and operational configuration issues. However, the choice between L2 or L3 VPNs is a function of existing deployments and technology familiarity within the operator’s organization.

Paolo Volpato of Alcatel-Lucent spoke about the growing share of microwave backhaul (expected to top 55% by 2015, with fiber being about 35%, leaving copper down to 10% globally), and the role that recovery schemes play in packet-based LTE/4G backhaul deployments. The goal being lower TCO, packet-aware microwave backhaul architectures, that are also have service-aware management, thus lowering opex. Paolo gave a good overview of different backhaul topologies, ranging from tree, chain, ring, and mesh, and observed microwave backhaul today has the ability to support protection over any topology. Also interesting were the presentations by Telefonia on their LTE trials, and Norbert Fuchs (NSN) presentation on how IP and Ethernet (supported by MPLS) could meet the traffic encryption and clock distribution requirements of LTE.

Michael Frendo of Infinera talking of Superchannels and Lowering Cost of Ownership via Integration and Convergence! (Click on the video link at the top of the post to watch.)

The afternoon saw an engaging presentation by Julien (Lucek) of Juniper, who reminded us about the benefits that packet switching has over circuit-switching, and why operators have (and are) migrating to the former, while Michael (Frendo) of Infinera (see video excerpt) gave an outstanding presentation covering super-channels, and an analysis of the cost-of-ownership impact of converging layers — if you missed it, these presentations are highly recommended!

Michael gave the rationale behind moving to superchannels, drawing upon a processor analogy. Just as it was not cost-effective to scale processor speeds beyond 3-4GHz, and, instead, the architecture adopted was one of putting multiple cores in parallel, in exactly the same way, going to 1 Tb/s on a single lambda is not cost-effective today, and is not likely to be for almost 10 years. Nonetheless, using existing optical channels in parallel, one can achieve the goal using only 32 Gbaud electronics, and do so within the next 2 years!

Finally, Ori (Gerstel) from Cisco, Wes (Doonan) from Adva Optical, and Claudio (Coltro) of Alcatel-Lucent, each focused on a GMPLS-based (to a lesser or greater degree) control plane for packet-optical networks, and its potential benefits.

The day ended with Azhar’s excellent summary of the afternoon’s discussions (kudos to him for actually noting key points and sharing them with us all!) and a call by him, as always, to rendevous in Paris next year!

So, what were your experiences at the MPLS & Ethernet World Congress this year? What stood out in your mind? Which issues jumped out at you? Do share them below, and share your knowledge and observations with the larger community!

Also, don’t forget to also check out  the exciting developments on Day One and Day Two of the conference!

Link to the MPLS Ethernet World Congress February 6-10, 2012  Paris, France.