Light Reading

XO Deploys First Nationwide 100G Network

Carol Wilson

XO Communications Inc. today claims to be the first U.S. network operator to deploy 100G technology across its national fiber optic network, using Nokia NetworksDense Wavelength-Division Multiplexing (DWDM) network based on the hiT7300 platform.

It's a legitimate claim, says Heavy Reading optical networking analyst Sterling Perrin, because deployments to this point by companies such as Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) have been on specific routes and not across a national network.

And it's surprising on a couple of fronts: First, XO didn't go through a lengthy request for proposal (RFP) process before making this leap, choosing instead to select from among its two existing optical vendors, NSN and Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN). Second, choosing NSN over Infinera might surprise many, because XO was an early trial user of Infinera's 100G product. (See XO Tests Infinera's 100G)

XO CTO and SVP Randy Nicklas says timing drove both decisions.

"We recognized that we would need significant installments of bandwidth in multiple locations this year," Nicklas says. "We had to make a decision, and we were in more of a hurry, so we decided not to RFP and look at a lot of different vendors."

NSN was better prepared to meet XO's terms and timing and thus won the business, Nicklas says. But he adds that XO has launched another RFP on further development its network and looking at post-100G vendors.

That makes sense to analyst Perrin, who believes XO is likely to add a second 100G vendor as well.

XO is seeing demand for 100G trunks from its wholesale customers, including mobile network operators, cable companies, CDNs and cloud service companies but Nicklas doesn't expect there to be a huge spike in demand for 100G client services just yet.

Instead, a real benefit to deploying 100G now, besides raw bandwidth, is lower cost per bit per mile. While 100G transponders may still be more expensive than 10G or 40G equivalents, moving to 100G simplifies network operations by reducing multiple 10G interfaces, thus reducing overall costs.

"It's simply a better way to build a network," says Perrin.

So XO lowers its costs, makes its customers happier and prepares for a future that includes more bandwidth demands. All this was accomplished in a six-month to seven-month turn-up period with relatively few glitches, according to both Nicklas and Jim Benson, head of Optical Networks for the Americas at NSN.

The coherent nature of 100G meant the technology worked on XO's existing fiber, and other than the need for new, more expensive test gear, the carrier hasn't faced many issues with this technology transition.

For more

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:23:56 PM
re: XO Deploys First Nationwide 100G Network

Sounds like this deal came down to 100G pricing and that is it.  Footprint for dollars.


User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:23:55 PM
re: XO Deploys First Nationwide 100G Network

What about the much balleyhooed "INFN value proposition"? Big swing and miss for the PIC boys.

Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:23:53 PM
re: XO Deploys First Nationwide 100G Network

I think this comes down to timing - NSN was ready to move.

But I wouldn't count Infinera out of the next round and Nicklas makes it clear that there is a next round. Few carriers go with single vendor solutions for long.

Sterling Perrin
Sterling Perrin,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:23:52 PM
re: XO Deploys First Nationwide 100G Network


This is correct - Randy has made it clear at our Light Reading events that they will use two suppliers. What's interesting here is that they went with incumbent NSN without an RFP but it looks like they are going to RFP for the 2nd supplier. I'm wondering if NSN's pricing was so rock bottom that there was no better deal to be had, and now they are going to try to squeeze Infinera pricing down through RFP. (This is pure speculation as I haven't talked to XO about this.)


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