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Cox Bulks Up With Juniper

Cox Communications Inc. is buying additional routers for its national data backbone so it can dedicate more bandwidth to small- and medium-sized businesses for their voice and data communications.

Cox is purchasing an undisclosed number of T640 routers from Juniper Networks of Sunnyvale, Calif., so named because they can each handle 640 Gigabits of data per second. This is double the amount of the existing T320 routers Cox has deployed from Juniper.

“This is a phase in our network growth,” said Randy Kinsey, director of Internet protocol engineering for Atlanta-based Cox, with 5 million cable subscribers. “We’re physically running out of space” to handle Internet traffic on the current T320 router series, he said.

Cox leases a national fiber backbone from AT&T Inc., Level 3 Communications and several other partners, Kinsey said. Typically, Cox arranges for capacity in short-term deals, for lengths of time he declined to specify. That gives the company flexibility to lease more bandwidth as required, Kinsey said.

The backbone connects 14 Cox markets, including the major systems in Phoenix, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Omaha and Orange County, Calif. “We also have seven peering centers that are not in Cox markets,” located in Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Palo Alto, Calif., and Ashburn, Va., he said. Those peering centers house the colocation facilities that allow Cox to send and receive traffic from its network and the public Internet.

The new routers double the capacity of bandwidth Cox can provide to business customers, allowing the company to market business services to a wider swath of business customer that have larger bandwidth needs.

In addition to giving Cox more firepower, the routers will help it lower maintenance costs, Kinsey said. Cox has deployed smaller, M-series Juniper routers in local systems.

“Now we have a consistent design,” Kinsey said. “Even with different routers, the hardware is interchangeable,” so spare parts can be used across all T-series and M-series routers.

By going all Juniper, Kinsey said business customers will see new services quicker, because the testing period to integrate new software will be shortened.

Andy Audet, vice president of Juniper’s cable division, said the same Juniper software runs across all of its network and edge routers. That’s important for business customers that might have a main office in Phoenix, for example, but need to connect to branch offices in, say, Eugene, Ore., or Omaha. “We can make sure Cox can provide certain throughput speeds at certain times of the day,” he said, to those branch offices.

Kinsey estimates Cox will now have 50 to 60 Juniper routers in its national network, plus 30 to 40 switches from several unnamed vendors. While the cable operator is looking at shipping some video over that national network, today the network only carries data and phone traffic, Kinsey said.