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Cisco Clarifies 100-Gig AT&T Backbone Claim

Cisco Systems, as part of unveiling its massively high-capacity core Internet router CRS-3, said AT&T had used the new platform in a "successful completion of the world's first field trial of 100-Gigabit backbone network technology" -- a claim that was disputed by Verizon Communications and Comcast.

Mike Capuano, director of marketing for Cisco's routing and switching group, clarified that what AT&T's test showed for the first time was a single-flow 100-Gigabit Ethernet backbone link operating at the IP layer.

Comcast had tested Cisco's 100-Gigabit Ethernet system in July 2008, but this test was of an earlier prototype that operated at "Layer 2" of the networking stack, according to Capuano. Meanwhile, the cable operator also ran a previous 100-Gbps backbone test back in March 2008, using optical-networking equipment from Nortel Networks.

AT&T's own announcement does not claim the 100-Gbps test was an industry first. According to AT&T, the trial demonstrated a single-carrier 100-Gigabit transmission with real-time coherent processing on the 900-kilometer ultra-long-haul transport link between Louisiana and Florida using Opnext optical equipment.

Verizon, for its part, last month used 100-Gbps router interfaces to transmit data over a 1,520-kilometer optically amplified stretch of network in the north Dallas area. Verizon has been working with Juniper Networks, NEC Corporation of America, and Finisar on the 100-Gbps native router interfaces.

Verizon director of media relations Jim Smith, in an e-mail, noted that in December 2009 the telco deployed 100-Gbps network technology on a segment of its European network running between Paris and Frankfurt. In Dallas, Verizon demonstrated end-to-end traffic flow, including live video traffic, through a 100-Gbps interface on the Juniper T1600 core router to the NEC SpectralWave DWDM system, which was equipped with 100-Gbps real-time coherent transponders.

Verizon first tested a 100-Gpbs optical network transmission in November 2007, claiming that it had actually conducted the industry's first field trial of 100-Gbps optical network transmission on a live system.

The Cisco CRS-3 Carrier Routing System provides up to 322 Terabits per second of capacity, three times that of the networking giant's current-generation CRS-1. The company claims service providers worldwide have deployed nearly 5,000 Cisco CRS-1s and that its cumulative investment in the CRS family is $1.6 billion.

In addition to higher capacity, the CRS-3 also offers up to 60% savings on power consumption compared with competitors' platforms, Cisco said. The CRS-3 is currently in field trials. Pricing starts at $90,000.