11 December 2007

AT&T network upgrades

Stories like this one in Forbes don't get a lot of press attention, but I think that they are worth tracking anyway. Since Forbes doesn't do permalinks, here are some key excerpts from the article:

AT&T Inc. said on Monday it has switched on its high-speed backbone network, which is designed to ferry data traffic across the U.S. four times faster.

AT&T has begun placing traffic on its so-called "ultra-long haul" network, which boasts a capacity of 40 gigabits per second, meaning consumers will be able to download large files quicker and more easily stream online videos to their computers. Carriers have been upgrading the backbone network - the underlying pipes needed to move data across extremely long distances - to meet the increasing demand in bandwidth-intensive programs and videos.


The company, which is deploying routing equipment supplied by Cisco Systems Inc., has upgraded 50,000 miles of its network and plans to connect 25 major metropolitan areas in the next several months. ... In addition to a faster connection for consumers, the upgrades will help ease the capacity requirements for the company's U-Verse Internet-based TV system.


While the network is the first in the U.S., Verizon Communications Inc. said that this month it would begin building a 2,000-mile backbone network connecting major cities in Europe.

Both companies plan to push the 40-gigabit standard in the U.S. and eventually upgrade to 100 Gbps.

The article doesn't mention it, but I think it is safe to assume that the "40 Gigabit" standard is, in fact, OC-768 (this article in Network World confirms this). NW also reports that this is AT&T's MPLS network. I'm not sure what the "100 Gbps" is ... OC-1536 comes in at approximately 80Gbps. Wikipedia reports that the OC-3072 standard is a "work in progress".

Could the 100Gbps bit rate be referring to 100 Gbps Ethernet (as this article in Wikipedia suggests)? That would be quite a departure ... and would suggest an explicit strategy to integrate local and long distance network standards. Ethernet has truly come a long way (pun intended)!

In light of the Comcast "network management" discussion, this is an interesting development. Do you think AT&T would be credible if they employed similar techniques on this new network?

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