Network keeps 'community' together

The link between the consortium and Spawar headquarters is an example of

what Cox Communications Inc. and Atmosphere Networks Inc. call a community

of interest network (COIN).

This market includes federal agencies, education organizations and other

groups that are linked by geography, common interests and a centralized

decision process. These groups are looking for high speed and bundles of

multiple services for Internet access, virtual private networks, intranets,

links between voice equipment and other telecommunications functions.

These groups usually want to take advantage of existing fiber or cable,

and Atmosphere can offer them the ability to mix multiple services over

the same pipe to exploit such existing lines.

The Spawar/consortium transparent local-area network deployment is

the first federal COIN that Atmosphere and Cox have deployed, but they are

targeting other federal groups that need to be connected and are in the

same metropolitan area.

The COIN concept is based on an evolving business model from the nation's

competitive local exchange carriers (CLEC), companies that compete with

the already established local telephone concerns by providing their own

network and switching, said Scott White, Atmosphere director of technology

and business development.

For several years, CLECs used to justify deploying fiber to support

large groups of customers in metropolitan areas. Now, because the fiber

market is built out, CLECs are searching for groups of customers that are

geographically close, need to be interconnected, have varying bandwidth

requirements and are governed by a central decision-making authority.

These groups are ideal for a COIN because they typically have high requirements

for data transmission but the requirements may vary between parts of the

group, White said.

A traditional Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) solution would require

dedicated point-to-point pipes for the various parts of the community of

interest. The transparent LAN, with Atmosphere's multi-service access device,

can offer separate service over the same network instead of having dedicated

pipes to each site.

The solution includes a layer of packet intelligence on top of the SONET

that looks at each package and decides where to send it. Because the network

is shared, bandwidth can be flexibly allocated to various parts of the group,

White added.

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