MCI's Wellbrock: Ethernet Boom's Here

DALLAS -- Ethernet services are exploding, grid computing is for real, tunable lasers should be virtually everywhere, and 40-Gbit/s networks are coming soon.

These were just some of the ideas floated at Light Reading's "The Future of Optical" show here yesterday, where MCI Inc.'s (Nasdaq: MCIP) director of network technology development, Glenn Wellbrock, was among several speakers talking about where optical networks are going next (see Optical Networking: All Grown Up).

Wellbrock believes that new demand is building for bandwidth along long-haul routes and that carriers are developing more comprehensive metro and access Ethernet services. With Ethernet services, the catalysts are changing, but the demand is only getting stronger, he says.

Scientific research and meteorological studies still require tapes and disks to be shuttled back and forth via mail or courier trucks, Wellbrock says. But Ethernet changes that. "You turn a couple of scientists loose and tell them to use all the bandwidth they can and they'll do it," he says.

That, along with the emergence of VOIP, IP video, and other growing applications, is pushing carriers such as MCI into a battle plan to use Ethernet to carry everything, including legacy services (ATM, Frame Relay, private line) and new data services (IP VPNs, VOIP, storage extensions). (See More Ethernet, More Places.)

Wellbrock is apparently not alone. The latest Heavy Reading report, "Ethernet Services Carrier Scorecard: North America," an in-depth look at the Ethernet plans of 120 North American service providers, indicates that many are moving in the same direction.

Here are some other bits and bobs from Wellbrock's keynote:

  • Wellbrock says that hosted grids will carry about one third of all business traffic in the next few years. Server utilization in companies is very low, he says, and, with the right network connections, MCI could host grids or build grids for other services companies, such as IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) or Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) (NYSE: EDS).

  • Tunable Lasers belong everywhere and have the potential to make networks more efficient (see Tunable Lasers Revisited). In addition to making for potentially more dynamic systems, tunable lasers also help reduce service provider costs by eliminating the need to ship and track separate linecards for each wavelength. "We want to share that cost because it benefits everyone… Heck, you ought to be paying us to use tunable lasers," Wellbrock joked.

  • In the next few years, MCI will deploy 32,000 route miles -- a complete long-haul network overlay. To cut capex and opex, this will be done using new technologies that extend regeneration distances from a range of every 300-500 km to every 1,500-2,000 km. The carrier has deployed about 3,100 route miles since 2004 (see MCI Eyes 40-Gig ULH ).

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

Make sure your company and services are listed free of charge in Light Reading's Ethernet Services Directory, which already lists hundreds of services, by completing this questionnaire.

For more on this topic, check out the Heavy Reading report: Ethernet Services Carrier Scorecard: North America.

Sign In