The platform, currently being trialled, will offer 160Gbps of switching capacity and a variety of 10Gbps interfaces, the biggest yet in the company's long-running Passport line.
The Passport 20000 will let carriers link a wide variety of services, including traditional voice, wireless, Internet Protocol (IP) data, IP virtual private networks, Asynchronous Transfer Mode and Frame Relay into a single backbone network. Carriers can use the switch to migrate directly to an IP core or continue using ATM in the backbone. With either technology, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) can be used to provide the high quality of service across the network.
Service providers can integrate several different 10Gbps interface modules into the Passport 20000, including an OC-192 (10Gbps) Packet over Synchronous Optical Network port, a 10-Gigabit Ethernet connection and four ATM OC-48 links.
For carriers using dense wave-division multiplexing in the core of the network, the Passport can dynamically set up and tear down individual wavelengths as that capacity is required. A separate transport device on the edge of the optical infrastructure will then convert the electronic signals to light waves for transmission.
The new switch will give Nortel's large number of service provider customers a way to migrate smoothly and economically to a new infrastructure, Brent Wilson, an industry analyst at Current Analysis in Virginia, USA, said. In addition to offering a variety of interfaces and support for different kinds of services, the Passport 20000 will let current users of the smaller Passport 15000 reuse components from that platform, he said.
Support for ATM and other interfaces is critical because incumbent service providers are unlikely to make the migration to a fully IP-based network for years, Wilson said. In the meantime, MPLS will be the common denominator for many.
The Passport 20000 will carry a typical starting price between $150,00 (£104,890) and $175,000 (£122,372) according to a Nortel spokeswoman.