Light Reading
The carrier says it's leading the US pack when it comes to 100G, and it's got room for vendors beyond Ciena and Nokia Siemens to get involved

XO's Not Done Yet With 100G

Ray Le Maistre
9/7/2012
50%
50%

XO Communications Inc. (OTC: XOHO) has embarked on one of the world's boldest 100Gbit/s network rollouts, arguing that it's taken the 100Gbit/s lead among U.S. operators.

XO's plans have emerged in the past couple of weeks, as the carrier announced it's sourcing network equipment from Nokia Networks and Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) for deployment across its U.S. long-haul and metro networks respectively. (See XO Deploys First Nationwide 100G Network and XO Adds Ciena to 100G Roster.)

But XO, which has an annual capex spend of about $225 million and generates revenues of about $1.5 billion from its wholesale and enterprise customer base, isn't done yet with its 100Gbit/s plans and is looking for more state-of-the-art technology to boost the performance of its transport and packet services.

XO's CTO Randy Nicklas talked to Light Reading about where the operator is just now with its 100Gbit/s developments and what it's looking at next.

Initial 100Gbit/s moves
The long-haul and metro networks have taken different paths to 100Gbit/s, Nicklas says.

In the inter-city connections, XO had previously upgraded to 40Gbit/s with NSN and also used Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) gear for 10Gbit/s wavelengths. But there had been no demand for 40Gbit/s in the carrier's 40 or so metro markets. (See XO Upgrades With Infinera and XO Sweats Its Optical Assets .) Now, Nicklas explains, there's demand for 100Gbit/s across the board, hence the long-haul upgrade with NSN and the metro deployments of Ciena's 6500 platform.

"We think it's important to have metro systems that are 100Gbit/s capable. ... It's important in the long-haul and the metro" to help reduce the costs of provisioning large volumes of 10Gbit/s Ethernet connections, not only to the major carrier hotels but also to data centers that are not on the major transport routes, notes the CTO.

"Ciena's 6500 is often used in long-haul networks but we are using it in the metro," says Nicklas, who notes that XO had previously deployed Ciena's 4200 box widely before its development was "sidelined" following the Nortel unit acquisition that brought the 6500 into Ciena's portfolio. (See XO Picks Ciena and Ciena/Nortel Product Plans Revealed.)

The CTO says there is growing demand for long-haul 100Gbit/s services from wholesale customers such as the large Asia/Pacific and European carriers, cable operators, mobile operators and the major Web services companies such as Google and Amazon. But there's also demand in the metro markets, especially between mobile switching centers and data centers, plus a need to have 100Gbit/s on-ramps to the long-haul network. Economies, prices and savings
There are certainly operating cost advantages to having 100Gbit/s connections -- it's less expensive on the line side (the longer-distance links) than provisioning multiple 10Gbit/s links -- and the cost per bit per mile is reduced at higher channel speeds, states the CTO. And, of course, "now we can light the [100Gbit/s] line speeds for those with really big networks."

In general, building 100Gbit/s networks is becoming more affordable as LR4 CFP (C Form-factor pluggable) transceivers become more commonplace. "These are being sourced now by the router and transport vendors," notes Nicklas.

On the client side (the shorter distances in metro areas), the XO man says there is cost parity between 100Gbit/s and 10 x 10Gbit/s offerings, but the costs of 100Gbit/s capabilities are expected to improve as transceiver costs reduce further.

Naturally, as with all network operators, Nicklas is still far from happy with the costs associated with 100Gbit/s. "We are hammering the vendors on this. We'd like this to happen quicker, as would our customers. The CFP costs are hideous."

It's hard to quantify the operating-cost savings, Nicklas says, but he notes that his team will be able to provision a lot more bandwidth in the future without having to spend any more time or have more bodies. "We'll be able to do a lot more with our existing operations. There's a lot of testing, commissioning and design involved in 10x10Gbit/s circuits. The operations team is excited about provisioning 100Gbit/s cards."

There's also the issue of limited physical capacity being available on the main routes around the U.S., notes the CTO. "There's limited fiber inventory, so we need higher-capacity systems" to manage the growing demand for data capacity. "No one is digging new fiber."

As for service pricing, Nicklas notes that there are "occasionally some unrealistic customer expectations that 10 times the capacity will come at only 2.5 times the price."

Next steps – more vendors?
Ciena won't be the only vendor in XO's 100Gbit/s metro networks, states Nicklas. "We have a multi-vendor strategy to keep everyone honest and to keep the prices down. In metro WDM, Ciena is dominant in our network and it's been a great supplier, but we have alternative suppliers. In the metro, that's Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and we're working on qualifying its M6 platform [the ONS 15454 M6 Multiservice Transport Platform]" for 100Gbit/s.

Nicklas, however, didn't name-check Transmode Systems AB , which was recently added to XO's metro transport system supplier roster. (See XO Shows Some Love for Transmode.)

In the long-haul, XO currently has NSN and Infinera, but the company isn't necessarily just sticking with those two vendors. Having kick-started its 100Gbit/s rollout with NSN, Nicklas and his team have now issued an RFP (request for proposal) for a full long-haul network build based on 100Gbit/s Coherent technology.

"It's been issued to everyone -- eight vendors in total," including Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ciena, Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , as well as long-haul incumbents Infinera and NSN, notes the CTO. "This will give us the latest in price," but is not the last word in the process, he notes. (See Infinera CEO Campaigns for Growth.)

It's worth noting that XO has checked out Infinera's 100Gbit/s developments in the past. (See Infinera 100G Checkup.) In the IP domain, XO currently uses Cisco and Juniper routers, but Nicklas is looking for upgrades that are more geared toward 100Gbit/s capabilities. The operator currently has Cisco's CRS-3 in its network "and we expect a follow-on to that," and it also uses Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR)'s MX960. "The [Juniper] PTX -- that's an interesting device," notes the CTO. (See Juniper Makes Its Packet-Optical Move and XO Picks Juniper.)

What's also caught Nicklas's eye is Alcatel-Lucent's latest core router release. "These new routers are all much bigger and they bring down the port costs," he notes. (See Alcatel-Lucent, Juniper Get Core-Router Upgrades.)

He's not so keen on the switch fabric interconnect concept, though. "Bigger single machines are better," he notes.

And while he didn't talk about it during this call, Nicklas is also keeping an eye on the potential of software-defined networking (SDN) protocol OpenFlow. (See XO Takes a Shine to OpenFlow.)

Competitive advantage
Going nationwide with 100Gbit/s is giving XO a head start -- up to 12 months, reckons Nicklas -- over its rivals, most notably its main wavelength services competitor Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT).

"Level 3 doesn't have 100Gbit/s yet. It uses Infinera's DTNs, which could possibly be used for 100Gbit/s, but that's not an economical way to do it. We have the DTNs too, but neither us nor Level 3 is using that box for 100Gbit/s. They [Level 3] have a lot of Huawei equipment -- maybe they'll do it with Huawei. I don't know. But we think we're ahead of them."

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), meanwhile, has been pushing ahead with 100Gbit/s, but Nicklas believes that's on limited routes rather than nationwide, "and I haven't seen it made commercially available to external customers, so I think we have a better footprint than Verizon [in 100Gbit/s]." (See Verizon Loves Its 100G and Verizon Deploys Ciena's 100G.)

As for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), "it tends to remain silent. And they bet on 40Gbit/s in a big way, so..." (See EENY 2010: AT&T Gets to 40G.)

All told, the CTO reckons XO is leading the way in the U.S. "We've stolen a march on our rivals," he concludes.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
digits
50%
50%
digits,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:21:38 PM
re: XO's Not Done Yet With 100G


Is Nicklas just stirring the pot by throwing a mention of Alcatel-Lucent's core router into the mix?

Todd@Internet2
50%
50%
Todd@Internet2,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:21:30 PM
re: XO's Not Done Yet With 100G


Just wanted to let you know that Internet2 and the US education community completed their 100G network upgrade last year. Here's a link to the release, http://www.internet2.edu/news/pr/2011.10.11.100G.html.

Internet2, is owned by U.S. research universities, and is the worldʼs most advanced networking consortium for global researchers and scientists who develop breakthrough Internet technologies and applications, and spark tomorrowʼs essential innovations. Internet2 consists of more than 450 U.S. universities; corporations; government agencies; laboratories; higher learning; and other major national, regional and state research and education networks; and organizations. To discover more about Internet2, please go to www.internet2.edu



Todd Sedmak, Internet2 PR & Media Relations Manager

tojofay
50%
50%
tojofay,
User Rank: Moderator
12/5/2012 | 5:21:29 PM
re: XO's Not Done Yet With 100G


"The Northern Tier Network portion of the footprint will leverage Infinera's forthcoming XTN system for optical transport, increasing capacity from 400 Gbps to over 3 Tbps on that path."


 


www.internet2.edu

Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (7) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Packet Design asks network professionals how they handle the cloud, SDN, and network management.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Cisco Puts a Fog Over IoT
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
U-verse Growth Slips But Still Strong
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 7/24/2014
Salary Survey Report 2014
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
Facebook: 30% of Users Are Mobile-Only
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/24/2014
Verizon Applies 3G Throttling Policy to LTE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/25/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed