Nortel puts intelligent networking on the edge

The networking equipment vendor has claimed a breakthrough in converged communications that could improve reliability and service quality for end users

Nortel Networks launched a new range of networking equipment on Monday which it claimed would help network operators to support IP-based services with greater reliability and quality of service than is possible today.

The MPE 9000 range of routers -- MPE stands for "multiservice provider edge" -- are designed to sit at the edge of a telco's network, replacing existing routers or switches and instantly upgrading the network's ability to support multimedia applications. Nortel senior executives said they will allow operators to run a truly "converged network" -- carrying different services such as IP-VPNs and Internet traffic, and networking protocols such as ATM, frame relay and Ethernet on a single network.

The impact for end users such as businesses, home workers and consumers, according to Nortel, will be better and more reliable services.

"The MPE 9000 range will allow content and application providers who are delivering a service over the network to offer a guaranteed quality of service," said Greg Mumford, Nortel's chief technology officer, explaining that the routers will be able to prioritise network traffic by user, by session and by individual application.

"We won't get the acceleration of deployment of new services unless we have the ability to deliver a range of multimedia services over one infrastructure," Mumford added.

Two products were announced on Monday: the MPE 9500, which has a switching capability of up to 80Gbps of data, and the smaller MPE 9200, which can cope with up to 20Gbps.

Because they support IP/MPLS (multi protocol label switching) they can handle 'deep packet' inspection, meaning they can prioritise a VPN connection ahead of a Web browser session.

The multiservice edge has been a hot topic with analysts in recent months, who have argued that telcos need to update their networks to support the IP-based services that will be demanded by e-enabled businesses, mobile workers and broadband users.

The MPE 9500 and MPE 9200 are scheduled to go on sale worldwide in the fourth quarter of this year. Pricing details were not available on Monday.