Time for an update on Timing Solutions

A network without synchronization is like an orchestra without a conductor.

Our partner, Symmetricom, recently announced the launching of a new segment of their SyncWorld ecosystem for microwave backhaul.  Our hat’s off to them; this is great news for Symmetricom and the new players that are now on board. We boarded this train awhile back.  After a couple years of collaborative testing between us, we first joined the ecosystem when it was initially launched in March at CTIA 2011.  

So, what have we learned since then you might ask?

Well for one, packet based timing is still growing in interest, evaluation, and deployment.  Customers around the world — including mobile operators, state and utility providers and others – are increasingly looking for timing solutions that operate over their Ethernet fiber and microwave network as effectively as their TDM timing solutions do.  A recent Heavy Reading analyst report projects close to 2 million cell sites will have deployed the two most dominant solutions, IEEE 1588v2 and Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE), by 2015.

Secondly, we’ve learned this is by no means the technology race it started out to be.   Remember when Blu-ray and HD–DVD were competing a few years ago?  Or perhaps that has well faded into memory.  Well, I still recall the industry buzz a couple years ago about whether Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE) was going to kill IEEE 1588v2, or vice-versa. Who was going to come out on top?  

Telecom watchers and players are always primed for a tech battle it seems.  Well lo and behold; this battle has become more of an alliance, as of late.  

The dominant discussion today is now about how BOTH these technologies can co-exist, and where best to deploy them in a network, either side by side or in parallel, with one backing up the other.  Hmmm, now that’s an interesting conclusion to a tech battle. 

Case in point, a couple of our customers are planning to deploy both technologies to take advantage of their respective strengths and are in the process of doing just this.  See this whitepaper for more information about synchronization over microwave backhaul or maybe this one for insight into deploying IEEE1588v2 synchronization.

So, with the reality today that packet timing is still growing and that options for packet timing (including TDM, 1588v2, SyncE, and GPS) will continue to co-exist for a long time, it becomes even more critical to seek experience when it comes to planning your sync migration. 

An ecosystem is probably a good place to start, especially with those players that have been at it for some time.

Errol Binda,
Sr. Manager, Solutions Marketing

Migrating Mobile Networks to IP/MPLS

Typically, a small number of DS1s has been sufficient to service 2G and 2.5G base stations, but with the data capacity needed for advanced 3G and 4G HSPA/LTE applications, new strategies and even new technologies being evaluated.

More network capacity translates to more backhaul capacity. This additional capacity can be more efficiently delivered in IP/Ethernet. Among the many technologies available, IP/Ethernet is consistently recognized as the transport media of choice for expanded backhaul services.

For many operators the introduction of Ethernet will be an overlay on top of existing TDM (voice) network connections given their huge investment in their TDM infrastructure. This will typically involve gradual migration using data overlay, with a decision at some future point to further migrate to an all-packet-based network. The transition phases may well include instances where there is a need to transport Ethernet alongside TDM, or Ethernet over TDM, and do so in a flexible, secure and cost efficient way.

It is clear is that the traffic requirements in carrier networks are becoming more advanced. To support real-time, two-way digital communications, an IP-enabled, communication pipeline must be established.

Our paper reviews the technology choices that are available to support legacy TDM and IP-based services when migrating to IP/MPLS. Network migration should consider the many demands such as seamless migration, increased capacity, cost, and security. Hybrid networks that can transport native TDM alongside native IP are the best solution to successfully tackle the many requirements for mobile carrier networks.

Jennifer Graybeal
Blog Editor