Optical Metro Network Initiative

Increasingly, next-generation optical metro networks are being recognized as key enablers for all sectors of digital economies. The Optical Metro Network Initiative (OMNI) project was established to create a reference model for a wide-range of next generation metro digital communication services, based on advanced photonic technologies. This initiative involves policy formulation, digital communication service development, technology research and development, prototyping, testbeds, and experimentation.

Multiple new requirements for optimizing digital information flows are motivating a dramatic comprehensive revolution in data communications. In general, this revolution can be characterized by a transition from a highly restrictive infrastructure to a highly flexible infrastructure. In a digital economy, a critical success factor is a capability to manage optimally the flow of digital information, which means managing data traffic precisely, efficiently, flexibly, quickly, and cost-effectively.

Traditional digital communications do not provide the capabilities required to accomplish this objective. The restrictions on services are evident at many levels, including architecture, services definition and deployment, complexity, management, technology, integration, accessibility, support, interoperability, and cost. In part, this situation has risen from the provisioning of separate infrastructure for separate communication services, and an overall architectural design that has mandated multiple hierarchical layers for infrastructure. In addition, there are multiple separate service, technology and technical considerations for networks depending on location, at the metro edge, metro core, aggregation points, long haul, and ultra long haul. Next generation optical networking has a potential to significantly reduce or eliminate all of these barriers.

Emerging standards and technologies for optical networks allow for a significantly simplified architecture, enhanced, easy and quick to provision services, more effective management, better interoperability and integration, and overall lower cost. Also, it will be possible to provision services on these future networks such that global applications will be able to be much more location independent. To some degree, one of the key goals in this development is to create network services with a high degree of transparency, that is, allow network technical elements to become invisible while providing precise levels of required resources to applications and services.

The Optical Metro Network Initiative (OMNI) is developing a reference model for this next level of large scale communication services, based on optical technologies that allow for lightpath-based services supported by advanced photonic technologies. One of the key projects of this initiative is the OMNInet testbed . OMNInet is an inter-organizational cooperative research partnership, which includes SBC, Nortel, iCAIR, the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the MCS Division of Argonne National Lab, CANARIE (the Canadian Advanced Network for Advanced Research, Industry, and Educations, and GigaPort/SurfNet of the Netherlands. This initiative is part of iCAIR's mission, which is to accelerate leading edge innovation and enhanced global communications through advanced networking technologies, in partnership with the global community.

Motivating the current revolution in digital communications are numerous drivers. The following sections present some of these drivers as well as information on emerging technologies, standards, new types of digital communication services and economics. Key drivers described here include: a) next generation optical metro networks---new types of large-scale, wide-area foundation municipal digital infrastructure that also allow access to international network fabrics; b) next generation applications; c) innovative digital infrastructure, especially Grid computing; d) new digital communication services; e) emerging technologies and network standards; and f) economic and financial models.


  • Metro Economics and OMNI
  • OMNI, Next Generation Applications, Grids, and iGRID
  • Next Generation Network Services
  • Next Generation Network Services Provisioning
  • OMNInet Testbed
  • OMNI Technologies
  • OMNInet and Networking Gateways
  • OMNInet and International Networking
  • OMNI and Infrastructure Policy
  • OMNInet Partners

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