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Verizon's Wellbrock: 100G Is Needed

DALLAS -- Optical Expo 2008 -- So, what's the killer application for 100 Gigabit optical networks? "I'll tell you the truth: They're all killing us right now," says Glenn Wellbrock, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s director of Backbone Network Design at the morning keynote here Monday.

Wellbrock says that bandwidth demand isn't the issue for 100 Gbit/s networks. "There are very few routes [in Verizon's network] with less than 100 Gigabits of traffic," he says.

Level 3's principal network architect, Craig Pierantozzi, said in the very next presentation that Level 3 was having a similar issue and has to manage traffic using an "n-by-10G lag" right now.

In other words, both Level 3 and Verizon are meeting their traffic needs by combining multiple 10-Gig wavelengths because that's the only technology available at the right price when the existing networks were built.

Now, Wellbrock notes that vendors and service providers are continuing to solve the complex problems associated with creating faster networks without completely discarding the existing telco infrastructure.

From there, he pointed to today's 100-Gig trial announcement with Nortel Networks Ltd. , and Verizon's previous trials with Nokia Networks and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), as proof points that the carrier can solve specific problems associated with 100-Gig transmission in each case. (See Verizon Adds Nortel to Its 100G Club, Verizon Goes Long(er) With 100-Gig, and Verizon Keeps 100-Gig Promise.)

Wellbrock says Verizon ran the Nortel gear 100 Gbit/s test in Longview, Texas using fiber that had the highest Polarization Mode Dispersion (PMD) fiber the carrier could find. "The fiber we found was not even being used for 10G, and we ran 100G on top of it," Wellbrock says. "We didn't change the fiber…"

And, while Verizon has been spending steadily on its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network, Wellbrock says the backbone is still all about taking costs out of the network. "We spend a lot of money on FiOS because the customer sees it. The end users can really tell the difference," he says. In the backbone, the game is all about keeping costs low, he adds. "This is all infrastructure. This is the enabler."

As an introduction to Wellbrock's talk, Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin noted with relief that the bandwidth demand spurring on the optical networking business isn't directly tied to the subprime mortgage crisis or the meltdown happening in the financial markets.

Building on that thought, an audience member asked why the margins for optical networking equipment were still so miserable.

"If you guys want to complain, bring it on," Wellbrock says. He noted that landline losses and competitive pressures are keeping service providers from making the kind of margins they would like to make. At one point he joked that huge enterprise customers sometimes ask, "Ethernet's free, isn't it?"

— Phil Harvey, Editor, Light Reading
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:30:14 PM
re: Verizon's Wellbrock: 100G Is Needed First we have Ford and GM getting $25B in taxpayer money because they spent the last 20 years producing ecologically damaging gas guzzlers, paying themselves high salaries and generally putting their heads in the sand. Now that consumers have a choice to buy better cars, they run to Mom because "things changed" so fast.

So now, we also have too few "service providers", whose business plan is really high cost narrowband rather than broadband, who want to limit consumer choice so they can preserve old investments that should have never been made. Instead of owners of promising new technologies getting rewarded for giving buyers what they want, we have tired old monopolists not investing because the world does not to exactly what they want while end markets languish. Some free market!
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:30:13 PM
re: Verizon's Wellbrock: 100G Is Needed why do i feel like mg just got off the phone screaming at her stockbroker?
Mark Sebastyn 12/5/2012 | 3:30:13 PM
re: Verizon's Wellbrock: 100G Is Needed Amen MG.

Someone tell me what I need to do in order to be too big to fail.
fanfare 12/5/2012 | 3:30:07 PM
re: Verizon's Wellbrock: 100G Is Needed materialgirl:

I hear what your saying ... I pounded the table at VZ .. and publically criticized them about playing the "milking" game for years. But NOW who are you talking about? The MSO's who refuse to build out the backhaul they need to provide customers with broad pipes up and down ... or the BOC/LECs? VZ is offering fiOS (though limited in scope), and T Uverse. Both offer more/better than MSO/Cable. Who is dragging their feet now?
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:30:06 PM
re: Verizon's Wellbrock: 100G Is Needed People hate to hear this, but IMHO in the stupid network era, bandwidth providers are in a very low margin business. They don't provide service as much as raw connectivity. The people who benefit from this connectivity are on the ends, not in the middle.

Thus, bandwidth becomes an "essential service" that must be provided, but is not at all attractive per se. As such, it probably should be provided by the same mechanism as roads, ie by the municipality that can profit from its side effects.

People hate to deal with this, but the current set-up is clearly failing. The sad part is that for the past 8 years, this dichotomy has been evident, yet we have made exactly zero progress in moving to a workable next-gen model. Instead, we have "poured money into the ground" in unworkable, proprietary, closed, controlled, fraudband solutions. This shortcoming is evident in the growing use of the silent usage caps we are now being subjected to. Now, we have no money left (hence the credit crisis), and no network.
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