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Fiber in the Sky

by Featured.Customer on ‎09-08-2010 10:40 AM (464 Views)

Joel Mulkey - CIO - Freewire Broadband


Ever try guaranteeing reliable broadband services using radio waves?  It’s not easy but that’s how we beat out the LECs here in Portland, Oregon. We create a secure, robust, high-speed Ethernet backbone in the sky using cutting-edge technology.


In 2009 we realized it was time for a network refresh. Our switch platform was limited in scalability and features so we started searching for an upgrade. We quickly realized a common limitation among most of the solutions - they required at least a two-tier network to meet our scalability requirements. The solutions did not support edge-to-edge MPLS or PBB tunnels/connections, all traffic had to be backhauled to an aggregation switch before it could be sent to another edge switch. This architecture does not work for a regional wireless carrier like us because many of our backhaul links are wireless rather than fiber. The wireless links work very well and have fiber-like performance, but their capacity is usually limited to around 350Mbps per link. To “spend” capacity backhauling traffic to an aggregation switch, just to send it back down the same link to a nearby node causes a drastic inefficiency  that we could not afford. In addition to the architecture limitations, many of the potential solutions could not meet our tight power and space requirements.



The reasons we chose the Brocade NetIron CES 2000 switch for our tower sites, and the Brocade NetIron XMR 4-slot chassis for our core sites was primarily based on the people and features. The sales and support people we work with at Brocade are outstanding. Additionally, the features that the Brocade CES 2000 supports are wide-ranging and deep. We are in the process of implementing MPLS VPLS and VLL to provide MEF-complaint Ethernet transport services and so far we’re very pleased. Edge-to-edge MPLS tunnels are fully supported and the advanced QOS, rate-limiting, and traffic-engineering capabilities are enabling us to deploy new services to our customers. The small form factor and low power usage of the CES have also helped keep tower-rent and power costs to a minimum.


As we continue to grow and the industry changes, we feel confident that Brocade will provide the updates and support that we need to solve new challenges as they come into view.


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