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It's a man's world

Steve O'Brien
We've had wide ones (Wans), local ones (Lans) and even tiny ones (Tans), but the future may belong to Mans (Metropolitan Area Networks), according to new research by analyst group Ovum.

Mans are communications networks which interconnect users to other services or users in a geographic area or region, but typically cover a city or large town.

But it's the introduction of gigabit Ethernet technology, in optical networks which span cities, which Ovum predicts could revolutionise capacity services. The first wave is forecast to be introduced to the wholesale market, serving long distance carriers and service providers who buy their city network capacity from other carriers.

Much of the driving force is coming from larger businesses requiring Lan-to-Lan communication, but which find the present system inflexible and time consuming. However, Yum Petkovic, senior analyst at Ovum and author of the report, says that could soon change. 'Large metropolitan areas already have fibre, which over the last 10 years have been using SDH and SONET links. The problem with these is they are based on a circuit based technology, and this is very limited. If you have a higher requirement, you can end up having to slice and bundle the data. It requires companies to predict their maximum bandwidth requirements, and usually results in some wastage, and when you've bought the bandwidth you are normally locked into it for 12 months. It can also take quite a while to change the service, and you have to amend various bits of the equipment, which can mean about 40 days delivery.'

Petkovic believes the new technology should allow companies to order bandwidth as and when required, which could be within hours from placing the order.
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