AT&T Expects Leg-Up in 100G Deployment

Carrier will leverage its investment in 40G upgrade to enable faster move to 100G

March 10, 2010

2 Min Read
AT&T Expects Leg-Up in 100G Deployment

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) on Tuesday announced successful completion of its 100-Gbit/s field trial, but unlike Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), it isn't predicting the deployment of this new Internet backbone technology this year. (See Verizon Expects 100G Deployment in 2010.)

"We expect it will be somewhere in the one- to two-year range for 100 Gbit/s to be truly primetime for the industry," says Paul Greendyk, executive director at AT&T Labs. "It's possible it will be deployed on some routes before then, but we don't believe it will be widely deployed."

As expected, AT&T's 100-Gbit/s partner was Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), the router vendor for its 40-Gbit/s Internet backbone. AT&T also named Opnext Inc. (Nasdaq: OPXT) as provider of its 100-Gbit/s CFP client-side modules and Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) as maker of its 100-Gbit/s traffic generator and analyzer. (See Opnext Makes Its 100G Move.)

AT&T is staying cagey on the transmission vendor with which it did the 100-Gbit/s field trial, declining to identify that party as yet.

Greendyk says AT&T expects to have a leg up on industry players that haven't done full-fledged 40-Gbit/s upgrades to their networks, by virtue of the fact that AT&T has already replaced fiber optic cable in its network to be certain the backbone is 100-Gbit/s-capable.

"Certainly industry-wide, some of the challenges around 100 Gbit/s will be around fiber and DWDM readiness," Greendyk says. "We believe we have a big advantage because of the investment we have made in a widespread 40-Gbit/s network . As part of that process, we made sure all the fiber we put in was 100-Gbit/s capable."

The jump from 10 Gbit/s to 40 Gbit/s is more significant, technology-wise, than the jump from 40 Gbit/s to 100 Gbit/s, says Sterling Perrin, Heavy Reading senior analyst.

"If an operator has solved the problems for 40 Gbit/s, the network should be in good shape for 100 Gbit/s," Perrin says. "The technologies are relatively similar, and deliberately so. That said, it doesn't mean that every operator will need to first move to 40 Gbit/s and then to 100 Gbit/s in step fashion. We do believe at least some operators will go directly from 10 Gbit/s to 100 Gbit/s in the future. But those operators will need to understand where 100 Gbit/s will and won't work in their networks before they can be up and running commercially."

AT&T is seeing tremendous growth in both wireline and wireless traffic on its converged IP backbone, Greendyk says, and will be ready to deploy 100 Gbit/s as it becomes economically viable. One of the next steps in that process is for vendors to begin to manufacture 100-Gbit/s gear in volume, once the global standard is ratified as expected in June. The equipment used in the AT&T field trial was standards-ready, Greendyk says.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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