Building Blocks for Rapid Communication System DevelopmentThe explosive growth of the Internet has placed huge demands on the communications industry to rapidly develop and deploy new products that support a wide array of protocols with a highly flexible architecture. The aggregate amount of Internet data traffic continues to climb as new subscribers go online at a rapid rate, and individual subscribers consume more data through graphic rich web sites, large file transfers,and streaming video content. The need for increased bandwidth over the "last mile" from the home to the central office has been well documented, and the gradual deployment of DSL and cable modem infrastructure has started to satisfy some of the consumer demand. Aggregate backbone capacity continues to increase as fiber optic cable is deployed at a rapid rate, while the data rate of individual channels accelerates from Optical Carrier Level 12 (OC-12)to OC-48 and OC-192, and the number of data streams carried on each fiber expands through advancements in Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) technologies. Although the demand for more bandwidth by subscribers has accelerated the rate of growth of network backbone capacity, the impact at the edge of the network has been more profound. To remain competitive, communication system manufacturers developing products at the edge of the network need to rapidly develop systems that support the growing list of access services being deployed, including the newer services such as DSL and cable modem, existing 56 Kbps dial-up, and the traditional T/E-carrier services used by business subscribers. A variety of different protocols need to be supported on top of these transmission media, including Frame Relay, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP). With continuous change on both sides of the edge of the network, there is an absolute requirement for flexible architectures in Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) equipment, including terminal/access multiplexers, edge routers, edge switches, and Synchronous Optical Network (SONET)/Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH)add-drop multiplexes.
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