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RPR Soups Up Sonet and Ethernet

RPR (Resilient Packet Ring) can help transform that Studebaker into a Ferrari by accentuating Sonet's and Ethernet's positives and attenuating their negatives. Although RPR was designed for carrier, metropolitan and campus networks, it can be implemented anywhere resiliency and efficient bandwidth usage are needed. RPR is not meant to replace Sonet but to ride on it and add value to it. Sonet will remain the king for long-haul networks.

And though carriers will be the first use RPR, primarily because of the cost savings, vendors are already designing RPR-based products for the enterprise. For example, AT&T has announced its Managed OptEring Service, which runs over an RPR network.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

RPR looks like a Layer 1 technology, but it's a Layer 2 implementation designed to run on Layer 1 standards such as Sonet/SDH. Although RPR can operate over Gigabit or 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Corrigent Systems and other vendors say they prefer using Sonet as Layer 1.

The RPR Header
click to enlarge

The reason for developing RPR as a Layer 2 protocol was simple: cost. Because RPR runs on top of existing technologies, carriers, service providers and enterprise customers don't need to scrap expensive network infrastructures--they can just add RPR equipment to the mix. And RPR traffic can travel on Sonet/SDH networks using Sonet VTs, so RPR can be added to networks without affecting current Sonet traffic.

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