& cplSiteName &

XO's Not Done Yet With 100G

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

XO Communications Inc. 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. (NYSE: 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        ADD A COMMENT
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: Light Sabre
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

Light Readingís Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
LIVE NOW!
Friday, December 2, 1:00PM EST
The SDN Approach to IP & Optical Integration
Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, December 2, 1:00PM EST
The SDN Approach to IP & Optical Integration
Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Korn Ferry Consultant: How to Find, Cultivate & Be the Best Talent

11|30|16   |   4:10   |   (1) comment


Erin Callaghan, a managing consultant for Korn Ferry Futurestep, shares strategies for companies to improve how they recruit and for women to ensure they don't get lost in the pipeline.
LRTV Custom TV
We Can Make the World More Sustainable

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


GeSI is a global e-Sustainability Initiative organization bringing together 40 big multinational companies around the world. According to GeSI's report, information and communication technology can make the world more sustainable. Luis Neves, chairman of GeSI, shared with us his opinion at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Finding a New Way to Engage Customers & Drive Revenue

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Mobile revenues are declining. Digicel, a player in the Caribbean telecommunications/entertainment space, has found a new way to engage customers and drive revenue. John Quinn, CTO of Digicel, shared with us its story at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016)
LRTV Custom TV
Do You Really Need Gigabit Infrastructure?

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Altibox is the biggest fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) player and the largest provider of video and TV in Norway. They started out with zero customers in 2002. Now they have close to half a million households and companies attached to their FTTH business. Nils Arne, CEO of Altibox shared with us their story and insight on 5G at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
BTís Openreach Strategy & Its Updates in 2016

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


A lot of developments at Openreach this year in terms of strategy and planned investments. Peter Bell, CIO of Openreach BT, shared with us the updates of Openreach at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
ITU: The Broadband Is Our Future

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


At Ultra-broadband Forum, Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of ITU, discussed how important it is for countries, companies and everybody to be working together to help to build the broadband and digital economies (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Tackling 5G in Dallas

11|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


Here are our highlights of the 5G North America show in Dallas, Texas with Light Reading's Dan Jones.
LRTV Interviews
Cox Prepping for Virtualization Trials

11|14|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this video interview, Cox's Jeff Finkelstein discusses MSO's plans to test managed business services in early 2017 and tackle Distributed Access Architectures.
LRTV Custom TV
Drivers & Potential of NGP

11|11|16   |     |   (0) comments


ETSI has created an Industry Specification Group to work on Next Generation Protocols (NGP ISG), looking at evolving communications and networking protocols to provide the scale, security, mobility and ease of deployment required for the connected society of the 21st century. The NGP ISG will identify the requirements for next generation protocols and network ...
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei IP 2020 for Future Networks

11|11|16   |     |   (0) comments


Future Networks should satisfy many requirements such as high throughput, extremely low latency, flexible mobility, intrinsic security, networking automation, and so forth. The Chief Architect of Huawei Future Networks addresses a holistic solution, i.e., IP 2020, to achieve these requirements for various future life scenarios (e.g., autonomous driving, tactile ...
LRTV Custom TV
Digital Object Architecture

11|11|16   |     |   (0) comments


Digital Object Architecture provides a basic information infrastructure that can facilitate interoperability between or among different systems, processes, and other information resources, including different identity management systems. Digital objects are networked objects that are named by digital object identifiers and instantiated by an infrastructure service ...
LRTV Custom TV
BT's Openreach Has High Hopes for Long-Reach VDSL

11|11|16   |   06:04   |   (0) comments


Peter Bell, Network Portfolio CIO at BT's access business Openreach, talks about the operator's trial of a new broadband access technology called Long Reach VDSL.
Upcoming Live Events
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
AT&T Debuts DirecTV Now on New Video Platform
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 11/28/2016
Apple Seeds 5G? Seeks 'Multi-Gigabit' Chip Designer
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/30/2016
Altice Plans FTTH for Entire US Footprint
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/30/2016
Altice FTTH Bill Could Hit Almost $9.6B in US
Iain Morris, News Editor, 12/1/2016
Samsung Bows to Investors, Considers Revamp
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/29/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Live Digital Audio

Even when there's a strong pipeline of female talent in the comms industry, it tends to leak all the way to the top. McKinsey & Company says women experience pipeline leakage at three primary points: being unable to enter, being stuck in the middle or being locked out of the top. Each pipeline pain point presents its own challenges, but also opportunities to stop the leak. Wireless operator Sprint is making a conscious effort to improve its own pipeline from new recruits to the C-suite, and it wants the rest of the industry to do the same. In this Women in Comms radio show, WiC Board Member and Sprint Vice President of Enterprise Sales Nelly Pitocco will give us her take on the industry's pipeline challenges. Pitocco, who joined Sprint in May and has spent 20 years in the comms industry, will also offer solutions, share how Sprint is tackling the challenge within its own organization and take your questions live on air.