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November 3, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

France Telecom demonstrated what it called the first trans-Atlantic Asynchronous Transfer Mode link to its offices in New York at the InterOp Europe 93 exhibition, where Asynchronous Transfer Mode technology is the order of the day. The demonstration, comprising Sun Microsystems Inc workstations on Ethernet Local Networks connected via the company’s Transrel 2Mbps Asynchronous Transfer Mode service, produced two video windows and two similar documents being worked on by a France Telecom employee at the Interop stand and in New York. The video quality was equivalent to a good VHS videotape, but there was a delay in the synchronisation between a person’s voice and the visual movement. Sometime in the first half of next year, France Telecom will begin marketing two Asynchronous Transfer Mode-based services. Firstly, Transrel, which supports all Switched Multi-Megabit Data Services/Connectionless Broadband Data Service equipment for the interconnection of Ethernet, Token Ring and FDDI Local Networks at speeds above 2Mbps, and secondly Virtual Path-Asynchronous Transfer Mode, which is an extension of its Transfix offer for connections requiring higher speeds, such as for PABX and video connections. Transrel, which is to be marketed by France Telecom subsidiary Transpac SA, is designed for companies that want to be billed only for what they transmit over the network. As a result, said Jean-Jacques Damlamian, sales director for France Telecom, the Transrel service should cost customers between 20% and 30% less than the firm’s existing special connections service that is available.

Bandwidth on demand

At its booth, France Telecom showed three demonstrations of Virtual Path-Asynchronous Transfer Mode service, with the collaboration of Alcatel NV, Cisco Systems Inc and France’s Centre National des Etudes de Telecommunications. The first two 34Mbps demos, involving Compagnie des Machines Bull SA hardware and Experdata routers and Hewlett-Packard Co hardware and Cisco routers, respectively, showed the processing and interactive access of video images at long distances. The two applications demonstrated were computer-assisted design and private video electronic mail. The third demo, on Sun, Alcatel and Fore Systems Inc hardware, showed the transfer of high-definition images over a Synchronous Digital Hierachy 155Mbps connection. Three service modes will be available for Virtual Path-Asynchronous Transfer Mode – permanent links, reserved bandwidth (two hours a day, for example) or bandwidth on demand. Bandwidth on demand means the customer can avoid paying for unused capacity. France Telecom also demonstrated a 34Mbps link to a Paris Asynchronous Transfer Mode node, which is linked via the Broadband Exchange over Trans-European Links, BETEL, network to the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland. The Broadband Exchange project entered its trial phase in September with the interconnection of the CERN nuclear research centre in Geneva, the Institut National de Physique Nucleaire et de Physique des Particules in Lyon, Institut Eurecom in Sophia Antipolis at Lausanne. The network enables users to share supercomputer time to run scientific computing tasks and videoconferencing for distance learning. The system consists of 34Mbps fibre optic circuits deployed by France Telecom and the Telecom PTT Switzerland. The circuits are connected to an Alcatel 1000 AX virtual circuit cross-connect switch operated by France Telecom in Lyon. The different user sites are equipped with FDDI local area networks, which are linked to the Asynchronous Transfer Mode system via Cisco AGS+/4 and Cisco 7000 high-speed routers.

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