Comcast, AT&T Building 100-Gig Backbones With Cisco

Comcast and AT&T are separately deploying Cisco Systems' CRS-3 core routers with standard 100 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, among the 80 initial customers in 30 countries the vendor says have bought the system a year after its introduction.

Cisco began shipping the CRS-3 to customers in August 2010. The company is not disclosing how many units have been sold. It claims its cumulative investment in the CRS family, including the first-generation CRS-1, is $1.72 billion.

Last month, Verizon Communications said it would become the first U.S. service provider to deploy 100-Gig technology on selected segments of its backbone network by the end of the second quarter of 2011, using Juniper Networks routers and Ciena's 100G coherent optical transport solution. The network segments to be upgraded to 100G include Chicago to New York, Sacramento to Los Angeles and Minneapolis to Kansas City; Verizon said it already has successfully deployed 100G on a portion of its European network.

The Cisco CRS-3 Carrier Routing System provides up to 322 Terabits per second of capacity, three times that of the CRS-1. In addition to higher capacity, the CRS-3 also offers up to 60% savings on power consumption compared with competitors' platforms, according to Cisco.

Comcast's backbone and metro networks "are 100G production-ready today with live 100G optics carrying customer traffic," Comcast senior vice president of network engineering Kevin McElearney said in a statement. "The CRS-3 brings true 100G into the IP packet layer this year for Comcast allowing more network efficiencies for our next-generation converged services."

AT&T, for its part, was among the first service providers to test out the CRS-3, demonstrating last year the first single-flow 100-Gigabit Ethernet backbone link operating at the IP layer with the system.

"We are very pleased to have worked with Cisco on a successful standards-based 100-Gigabit deployment in a live production network," AT&T chief technology officer John Donovan said in a statement. "We are entering the next stage of global communication and entertainment services and applications, which requires a new set of advanced Internet networking technologies, and Cisco's groundbreaking CRS-3 platform is advancing those technologies."

Since 2004, Cisco has shipped CRS-1 and CRS-3 units to more than 450 service providers in more than 80 countries, with a total of 7.5 Petabits per second of core bandwidth capacity -- enough core bandwidth to support a basic videoconference call with every person on Earth simultaneously.

Also Monday, Cisco is announcing "flexible packet-transport" capability, a form of label switching, which is enabled through an additional blade for the Cisco CRS platform.