New Standards Advance Telecom Evolution

Forecasters point to wireless, 4G, and interoperability as reasons to cheer on ATCA – with cautious optimism.

Predictions, even those built on solid methodological foundations, often collapse in the face of unforeseen variables. But one selection pressure, as Rob Pettigrew of Emerson Network Power reminds in our annual industry roundtable (see page TK), remains. “The introduction of ATCA technologies will be evolutionary,” he notes. Still, analysts are split on the prospects of ATCA’s evolution. Here, we excerpt some appraisals hot, cold lukewarm and every temperature in between:

From Heavy Reading’s “ATCA, AMC & MicroTCA” forecast (

  • The ATCA sector will grow from $798 million in 2009 to $6.7 billion in 2012 – a compound annual growth rate of 103 percent over that span. With second-generation platforms already in production, ATCA-based system shipments are growing quickly.
  • The COTS share of the ATCA market will fall below 50 percent by 2010, before recovering in 2011. As companies ship more systems based on in-house ATCA components, the COTS market share will fall, before recovering slightly as the market matures.
  • ATCA-based 2G/3G/4G wireless systems from multiple equipment vendors are delivering new flexibility for carriers. By using a single platform for several generations of wireless technology, network equipment providers can offer 2G and 3G solutions now, with simple upgrades to Long Term Evolution (LTE) or WiMax when required.
  • IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), LTE, and Evolved Packet Core (EPC) systems based on ATCA are now being used for trials and network deployments. ATCA market growth is partly being driven by carrier investment in these key technologies
  • More than 200 AMC modules are now available from 35 vendors, with several new market entrants. AMCs are now available for central processing unit (CPU), digital signal processor (DSP), storage, packet processing, networking, and general input/output (I/O) applications.

From Light Reading’s analysis, “AdvancedTCA Makes Headway,” on the potential of a new wireless infrastructure based on ATCA (

“The idea behind the standard is that blades from one vendor could be incorporated into a chassis made by another vendor. ‘Today, if you look, you have a separate infrastructure for ATM, IP, wireless, storage, PSTN switches, and so on,’ says Danny Berko, BATM’s product manager. ‘One day all services could be integrated into a single platform. The concept is any protocol on any card on any slot on an AdvancedTCA platform.’

Whether this level of interoperability is a practical reality remains to be seen. Establishing standards and implementing them is a good start, but service providers will probably take a lot of convincing before they’ll start mixing different vendors’ cards in the same chassis. All the same, the existence of the standards will probably help drive down equipment prices, because it will lead to greater commoditization of subystems as well as the components that go into them.”

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