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11th April 2013
The market for metro packet-optical transport systems (P-OTS) is entering a new phase with platforms adopting packet-only implementations, Optical Transport Network (OTN) switching and 100G transport. These are the main findings of a survey of over 100 operators conducted by market research firm Heavy Reading.

One surprise from the survey is the tremendous operator interest in adding IP/MPLS functions to transport, says Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. "There was a lot of debate about this 10 years ago. Then the industry settled on a de facto standard that transport includes Layers 0 to 2 but no higher," he said. "Now, it appears that the transport definition must broaden to include up to Layer 3."
Another finding is the decline in spending on SONET/SDH in favour of packet-only equipment. In 2012 the SONET/SDH spend globally dropped more than 20 percent, according to Perrin.
Heavy Reading says there is no single winning P-OTS architecture. Some operators will adopt OTN everywhere while others will shun the technology. In turn, certain operators will integrate optics on routers to save transponder costs, but others will keep the two types of hardware separate while tightly linking IP and optical layers via the control plane.
Meanwhile, interest in 100 Gigabit in the metro is high. "Cloud and data centre interconnect are the biggest drivers for interest in metro 100-Gig but there are other uses as well," said Perrin.  
Operators globally most associate Ciena with metro packet-optical innovation and leadership, followed by Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei. Among North American operators in particular, perception of Ciena's leadership is extremely strong. 
Heavy Reading surveyed 114 operators globally. The regional split was North America - 22 percent, Europe - 33 percent, Asia Pacific - 25 percent, and the rest of the world, mainly Latin America - 20 percent.
By Roy Rubenstein