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Northern Telecom Addresses Challenge of Public Network with New Architecture.

"Increasingly through this century, and especially in the post-war period, we have seen communications replace transportation and energy as the strategic, transforming resource for economic development. The heart of this resource remains that irreplaceable asset--the public network." Desmond Hudson, president of Northern Telecom Incorporated, the Nashville-based US operation of Northern Telecom Limited, was telling a gathering of some 500 telecommunications industry executives how they should be positioning their key asset--the network--to take advantage of growing opportunities. (The week before, Northern had brought a large group of executives from the user side to the same place, the lavish Ritz-Carlton near Laguna Beach, California, to describe the new Meridian line of products (see story, page 118.)

Building on two of its earlier major announcements, Digital World in 1976 and Open World in 1978, Northern Telecom had nearly a dozen of its key executives describe its new Dynamic Network Architecture (DNA) concept, an approach that's based on the interfaces, protocols and service and performance specifications of the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN). The dynamic capability refers to the ability to provide the necessary levels and kinds of services to meet the changing demands of users, offering the ability to reconfigure the network almost instantly to provide that capability where and when it's needed, on demand.

Welcoming the seminar attendees at an opening dinner, Northern Telecom Limited California Walter Light noted that this major announcement would be one of his last as head of the company. Late last year, he indicated that be would be stepping down as chairman.

Light noted that the advent of digital technology, "in which any form of communication can be conveyed in the form of electronic pulses, launched a new stage in information management. It is an advance that not only made possible, but vitally necessary, revolutionary ways of looking at, and thinking about, telecommunications."

"So basic is the role of information technology in economic and social evolution," he said, "that it is often overlooked. Consider the telephone and the telecommunications network. With 600 million handsets in use globally, it is surely the most taken-for-granted electronic device in the world. Yet the telecommunications network that connects these telephones, representing a $500-billion investment, is simply the most-powerful industrial and social technology of our century."

A Binding Force

Continuing, Light said, "Today, we live in what is called the Information Age. It is a time when knowledge and information work has replaced physical production as the basis of industrial and economic activity and employment. And, just as with the telephone, it is new information tools and technologies that are not only the basis of economic advantage, but also a driving force behind changes in organizations, societies and human attitudes.

"Yet one essential key to productive knowledge and information work lies in the existence of a network--a common channel--that can bind together the diverse array of users and their information tools into a cohesive, functioning whole. Without this binding force, truly effective and productive information activity will never be achieved. It is these two elements--new information tools and the need for a binding force or channel--that represent th challenge of the public network."

Looking at the network as a strategic business resource, Northern Telecom Limited President Edmund Fitzgerald told the gathered telco executives, "Today, a diverse array of network users--your customers--including businesses, public agencies and individuals, are intent on applying to their needs and capabilities the emerging Information Age technologies. Unfortunately, many of these customers do not yet recognize the power of the network to provide the solutions they require."

Fitzgerald added, "We believe the combination of shifting trends in user needs, the forces of increased competition and a volatile regulatory milieu, is driving the requirement for a network with new attributes and new measures of performance. For this to happen, the network architecture must be revisited, existing products introduced."

According to Fitzgerald, Northern Telecom's vision is "a network that allows you to offer your customers cost-effective marketing managerial and decision-making tools; a network that becomes the primary highway, used by information industries and services; a network that acts as a driving force behind productivity gains in the office, and on the ever-more-automated factory floor."

At the heart of Northern's vision, he said, "is a new network architecture, based on digital products, which builds on the digital and fiber modernization now underway across much of the telecommunications industry."

He said that to support Northern's vision and commitment, the company will invest more then $4 billion over the next five years in research and development expenditures.

H. Lloyd Webster, executive vice president of marketing and technology for Northern Telecom CanadaM pointed out that "the key to success has been the network planner's ability to anticipate the future. The challenge that planners face is the rapid change in the forces that are shaping the marketplace, demanding the new performance attributed from the network to win in an increasingly competitive market."

Looking at market growth, Webster pointed to forecasts indicating that the North American telecommunications services market in 1990 is estimated at $250 billion, up from $150 billion today. Some $100 billion of that forecast is expected to come from the residence market, while the remaining and greater share--$150 billion--will come from the business customer.

Offering an overview of the changing labor market makeup, he said that figures reflect the basic knowledge that "information and knowledge work--not hands-on production--has become the key to the survival and success of virtually any industry or company. In such an environment, business success will depend on the ability to increase the productivity of the vital information and knowledge workers. And it is communication and information-processing tools that must play the crucial role in achieving the required productivity gains.

According to Webster," As distributed processing on-line data-base access, local-area networks and associated intelligent terminals penetrate business offices, approaching one terminal per office worker by the year 2000, data transport growth will continue at 25 to 35 percent per year. Corporate users will drive and dominate this growing need for data transport."

The new products and features announced in connection with DNA include enhancements to the DMS family of digital switches and to digital transmission systems to provide a variety of new service capabilities; a series of new cross-connect products to permit greater integration of various network elements; a number of new network operating systems to give more-flexible network control; a series of new terminals to give users access to services and features provided on the network; and increased use of systems incorporating optical fiber as a transmission medium.

This year, Northern will introduce the capability for DMS-1 Urban subscriber switching systems to handle up to 60 percent of carrier-compatible special services, with a single type of interface card, eliminating the special engineering required for these services today. This capability is to be further evolved with the introduction of the DNX-100 digital cross-connect system, allowing the routing and management of individual 64-kb/s circuits directly in the 1544-Mb/s stream on a centralized basis. DMS-1 Urban will also be enhanced with a digital interface capability at 1.544 Mb/s to the DNX-100 for special services, and to the DMS-100 for switched services.

To specifically address switched data services, Northern will introduce a high-speed 1.544-Mb/s link between DMS-100 central office switches and SL-10 packet-switching networks. The key benefit derived from this feature, says the company, will be cost-effective access to the standard X.25-based packet-switching system through packet-circuit interworking.

Northern will provide a DNC-500 network operations system for 1986 availability, providing control of local network flexibility and centralization of service provision and maintenance. The system will allow telcos to provide special services such as PBX tie lines and dedicated data lines more rapidly and with more flexibility when used in conjunction with the DNX-100. It will also provide for centralized network management of Centrex-based networks based on the DMS family of Switches.

A customer network management operating system will also be implemented, to be located in a customer's business office, providing the DNC-100 with centralized station moves, route selection, billing traffic reports, network status display and data-base information directly to the Centrex customer.

The Signaling System #7 (SS7) protocol will be supported on the DMS-100 and DMS-10 digital switches. The initial phase will introduce trunk signaling capability in 1986; in 1987, network-wide services, including enhanced 800 toll-free services and automated credit-card calling services, will be introduced. These will be based on the DNC-100 network management system that will also be introduced in 1987.

Data-Over-Voice Coming

Northern Telecom says it will complement existing DMS data features with the introduction of data-over-voice capability on the DMS-100 CO switch. This feature will enable single-line subscribers to have access to a wider range of voice and other services. The data-access system will provide speeds up to 9.6 kb/s and support data and telemetry services simultaneously with existing paired cable.

ISDN access standards will be added to the DMS-100 with the introduction of the 23b + D standard multi-channel interface for business applications in 1987. This will be followed by the introduction of the 2B + D single-line basic access in 1988.

Northern says it will evolve interswitch trunking to a synchronous multiplexing format for high-speed fiber-optic transmission systems.

It will also introduce the DMT-400 synchronous multiplexer in 1986 and follow it with the introduction of direct synchronous fiber interfaces on the DMS-100 and DMS-1 Urban products.

In 1987, the company plans to introduce the DNX-300 member of its digital cross-connect family. Building on synchronous fiber transmission links, this system will allow software control of the deployment and routing of individual 1.544-Mb/s streams within the high-speed fiber systems that will be terminating on most of the large switching centers in the network by the late 1980s.

To manage these capabilites forming the base for Dynamic Network Architecture, Northern in 1987 will introduce the next member of its networkk operations systems family, the DNC-1000, which permits telcos to configure the network dynamically to meet changing levels of service demands and to redeploy network resources during temporary failure of one or more network elements.

To show some of the real-world applications, David Rendall, vice president of market development for NTI's Integrated Network Systems, described a case study showing the cost-effectiveness of DNA against a range of digital products. The chosen timeframe, a seven-year planning period between 1986 and 1992, and a five-year deployment period of 1988 through 1992 was costed out.

According to Rendall, capital savings over the five-year costing period amounted to $40 million, representing a four percent savings in switching and outside plant costs. The operational savings came to a total of $35 million over the plan period.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Apr 1, 1985
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