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[April 29, 2005]

Product Review: MRV Communication´┐Żs Fiber Driver Platform & Modules (It's time we managed our Fiber!)

By Biju Oommen

MRV Communication’s Fiber Driver Platform & Modules

MRV Communications, Inc. Corporate Center
20415 Nordhoff Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Phone: 818-773-0900
Fax: 818-773-0906
Web site: http:// www.mrv.com

Installation 5
Features 4
Documentation 4
Overall Rating: 4.25

Bandwidth is like money we never seem to have enough of it. Most of us have started exceeding the bandwidth offered by xDSL/E1/T1 circuits and to top it all we now need "triple play" of services i.e. combined voice, video and data traffic over the same link. Thanks to distance learning the internet is our classroom and time and distance are non issues. With Telemedicine quality healthcare is available right in your home town as you get access to a specialist miles away. Telecommuting ensures that we are electronically present in our office via phone, internet and video conferencing. Peer-to-peer computing, file sharing, distributed computing and even online gaming are the norm today. While away you need to monitor the activity and environment of your home. You need to access your home via the internet for live data voice and video feed, control home appliances, lighting, ventilation and security systems. A whole gamut of such applications and systems under home monitoring, networking, entertainment and automation technologies are available and plausible if you have the bandwidth.

Looking ahead for the foreseeable future using Fiber you can deliver the required exceptional bandwidth. You can carry many signals concurrently when required and that has spawned several important last mile access applications for the network under the umbrella of Fiber To The x (FTTx). In the acronym x can be substituted by h for home (FTTh) or c for curb (FTTc) or b for business (FTTb) and d for desktop (FTTd).All attempts in a direction to future proof the last mile of network access.

Now last mile network access applications and architectures can deliver very high bandwidth for voice, data and video subscriber services even with single strands of Fiber for a cost effective deployment.FTTb is equipped to transport bi-directional high speed voice and data signals for your business and FTTc/FTTh is geared towards transporting high speed voice, data and video broadcast signals all piped down the network from the service provider to your home on Fiber.

Your FTTx network architecture could be PTP (point to point) i.e. a direct fiber link connecting each end user to your local network node or a PON (passive optical network) where the signal is divided between several end users. Further the PON itself comes in three distinct flavors namely Broadband PON (BPON) or APON [Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) PON] which uses the ATM protocol and delivers to subscriber bandwidths of about 19.4 Mbps, EPON [Ethernet PON] an IEEE 802.3ah standard gives subscribers a bandwidth of 31.25 Mbps and then the GPON [Gigabit PON] ITU-T G.984.1, G.984.2, G.984.3 standards based letting subscribers have a bandwidth of up to 31.25 Mbps.

The current economic scenario dictates that we must accommodate the continuing growth in data traffic and the increasing demand for bandwidth while leveraging investment in the existing fiber optic network infrastructure.

Local access networks like FTTh, FTTo, and FTTc demand optimizing and managing the fiber infrastructure and rolling out services. This calls for a combination of functions like media conversion, signal repeating, fiber-optimization, CWDM, DWDM, Ethernet switching systems etc.

MRV Communication’s Fiber Driver product platform an Optical Transport Management System has made all those required functions available. A platform that is wide spectrum and comes in many formats managed rack-mount, modular systems and desktop systems. It supports a wide variety of modules and system options for optical and copper access supporting many widely prevalent protocols.

We will start our review with end-to-end management which is very crucial for a reliable, low maintenance cost and a high performance level network. MRV’s Fiber Driver EM316NM Network Management Module with its companion MegaVision Pro SNMP based NMS & EventHorizon Fault Management system gives you a lot of visibility (See Figure 1).

It is a comprehensive network management system (NMS) supporting the entire Fiber Driver line of managed fiber optic infrastructure devices. You get the Fiber Driver chassis and module representation in full graphical detail.

You can quickly react to any potential issues before your customer notices a problem with the service. EM316NM comes generically equipped to allow you out-of-band management using a CLI, In-Band Management with Telnet or SNMP using MegaVision Pro.

Now consider the Fiber Driver chassis itself where you get to choose depending on your deployment needs various form factors ranging from one, two, three, four and sixteen-slot chassis. If very high availability is one of your prime goals then the three, four and sixteen-slot chassis can be configured with redundant hot-swappable AC or DC internal power supplies or the triple redundancy [with a triple segment backplane] 16-slot chassis can be configured with dual DC power supplies.

Choice is yours; you select the modules starting from WDM [Wave Division Multiplexers] 8-channel WDM, Mux/DeMux module, OADM [Optical Add/Drop Mux], distance extenders, media converters, media optimizers etc all based on your needs, application and setup required. The Slide-in modules provide unparalleled flexibility for various media types, distances and applications.

For example you will see the EM316EFx1RM is a hot swappable module that combines and simultaneously transmit your 10/100 Ethernet traffic with either an E1 or T1 stream employing advanced Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) technology. You get to choose a suitable trunk SFP [Small Form-factor Pluggable].Inherent support for IEEE 802.3ah remote management [a technique that overlays a management channel along the data path] also proves beneficial as less management IP addresses are required and no management agent is required at the remote site. You can shoot 120 km over SM fiber.If your application requires you to combine Gigabit Ethernet with E1/T1 then you would select the EM316Gx1SF all on a single fiber strand.

MRV’s CWDM [Passive Optical add/drop multiplexers facilitates making a network topology in which one or more wavelengths can be added or dropped on demand at various locations along a CWDM path. They are available in single sided (East or West) and dual sided (East and West) configurations supporting up to eight (8) channels/ wavelengths. They are equipped to support protocol transparent, fully passive operation and for topology they can do a point-to-point bus and linear point to- multipoint. To top it all they are SNMP manageable and require no power!

Even media conversion is no problem. Media converters enable you to mix and match various wired media types [twisted pair, coax, multimode, single mode fiber optics]. There are fiber driver modules that allow you to do multimode to single mode, GBIC to GBIC media, SFP to SFP media or GBIC to SFP media conversion. They cover the entire gamut of major networking protocols like Ethernet, SONET, Fiber Channel and you can shoot up to 10 Km on MM [Multi-mode] and up to 130 km on SM[single mode] fiber. There is even one for very extreme temperatures.

Talking about SFP & GBIC we would like to make a special mention of MRV’s SFP and GBIC based video transceivers. With these you can go coax to fiber, do a multiservice WDM, deploy video switching solutions, deploy video conferencing etc.

If distance extension is your concern then MRV can help you extend the diameter of your network using repeaters to hundreds of km and at the same time support many industry standard protocols.

MRV can help by getting you connected on a single fiber if your management wants to optimise the usage of the fiber plant which is in place or they want you to double the data traffic. Using MRV’s fiber driver modules you can transmit and receive signals on a single fiber strand effectively doubling your fiber capacity. So if you had a 12 core fiber cable normally you would have had six working links but now you get twelve links. The spare fiber strand can instantly double the data traffic or provide redundancy or provide additional connectivity in the future.The net effect is that you do not have to rip up your pavements, driveways and streets as you run out of fiber strands.

As a service provider if you want to deliver cost effective fully managed point-to-point Ethernet services over the fiber optic link to your customer then Fiber Driver Optical Ethernet Service Demarcation (OESD) plug and play module is what you need. They support Ethernet, fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet and include features like dual fiber, single fiber, and self healing/redundant links. For a service provider uninterrupted service to the end user or subscriber is a must. For that self-healing redundant link and wavelength protection modules can prevent service outages in applications where maximum up time is required. If customer SLA [Service level agreements] and network uptime is important criteria then you would consider the Fiber Driver Optical Protection Switch EM316OSSH. It is an all optical protocol independent unit supporting wavelengths from 1260nm to 1630nm.The choices for 1+1 protection are resilient point-to-point or Optical Unidirectional Path Switched Ring (O-UPSR) deployments.

If you desire that the Fiber Driver chassis should be equipped with secure console, remote presence management, serial port management, sensor management, power control, connect serial devices to a TCP/IP network then just slot in the Linux-Fiber Driver Console Server module and presto you are ready to serve your subscribers.

Optimization of the existing fiber plant is possible and the whole process can be protocol and topology independent, transparent to network and end users thanks to the Fiber Driver Passive Mux/Demux modules that offer the benefits of a Wave Division Multiplexer as a fully passive solution. Going down this route with matching units at each end of an optical link you can combine and transmit 16 Full Duplex data channels over a Single Mode fiber trunk or with the mode conditioning module 4 data channels can be multiplexed over a single multimode fiber link to a distance of up to 1 km or 8 channels can be transmitted up to 500 m. To top it all there is no requirement for power. Simply put with this module your deployment flexibility increases as you can add or change data channels.

Ethernet switching is available and the choice is between the three-port Ethernet/Fast Ethernet switch modules (EM316-3SW), four-port Ethernet/Fast Ethernet switch module (EM316-4SW) or the six-port Ethernet/Fast Ethernet switch modules (EM316-6SW) include four auto sensing 10/100Base-TX ports and two 100Base-FX ports. In all cases you have the option between multimode and single mode fibers and either the standard dual fiber or the single fiber version and it can connect up to 110 km on single mode fibers. They are SNMP configurable and hot swappable.

SFP Multi-rate & SFP Multi-rate Dual transponders can take you anywhere from 100 Mbps to 2.25 Gbps and 40Mbps to 3.2 Gbps with 3R [retransmission, reshaping, retiming] signal regeneration. The Fiber Driver E1/T1 Fiber Multiplexer module lets you transmit four E1/T1 data channels across a fiber optic trunk in a point-to-point configuration.

Based on your application and deployment strategy slot in the right module and you are in business.


Now it is time to test MRV Fiber Driver unit. For the test setup we used the NC316BU-2/AC 2-slot Fiber Driver chassis. We populated it with the EM-316NM SNMP management module and the EM316E1/M E1 Fiber modem module. We wanted to drive the E1 signal from a router in our test over a MM Fiber optic cable a distance of 2.5 km. At the other end we used a corresponding setup which connected to a SDH access multiplexer equipped with an E1 interface. There is very little by way of setting except for on board jumpers to be installed in case you want to opt between E1 75 ohms/120 ohms. We used MRV’s MegaVision Configurator a very useful tool to set the IP/SNMP parameters through the PC serial port. The unit can now be managed using the same tool and you got to see the graphical representation of the front panel of the Fiber Driver modules. But then there is one caveat that you can run only one instance of the MegaVision configurator so if you need to manage multiple devices simultaneously then you have to go in for the full fledged network management system i.e. MRV’s MegaVision Pro. Then you can set maps, auto-discovery, add devices, set options like web server configuration, E-mail configuration, SNMP agent configuration etc. It also includes functions like Telnet, Ping, TFTP, BootP and Web Browser which earned our praise. The agent cloning utility is a good thought as you can copy the system configuration from one network management card to another. Overall the Fiber Driver is a very simple platform to setup and monitor. We were impressed by the simplicity of installation and versatility of the units.


We recommend that you take a closer look at MRV’s Fiber Driver platform as you move towards an FTTx implementation. It can help with your goals like flexibility, scalability, inventory management, plug-n-play, integrated service and link management, increased reliability and serviceability, matching costs with your subscriber take rates etc. that way it would be a win-win situation for both you a service provider and your subscriber.

This platform will extend the reach of your network, help in media conversion, network demarcation, WDM and much more. Let us say it will help you deliver what your customer needs by following the motto “Build your own services” remember services bring revenue.

Figure 1: MegaVision Pro SNMP based NMS & EventHorizon Fault Management system

Biju Oommen is a Telecommunications & Networking Solutions Consultant with a special focus on enterprise products and solutions.


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