MCI achieves 40-Gbit/sec milestone

May 26, 2004 Ashburn, VA -- Following on the heels of its ultra long haul (ULH) DWDM announcement in February, MCI has achieved what it claims is another first: the world's fastest intercity Internet Protocol (IP) transmission ever. The trial was conducted yesterday at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, where Cisco Systems officially unveiled its CRS-1 router, reports News Editor Meghan Fuller.

May 26th, 2004

May 26, 2004 Ashburn, VA -- Following on the heels of its ultra long haul (ULH) DWDM announcement in February, MCI has achieved what it claims is another first: the world's fastest intercity Internet Protocol (IP) transmission ever. The trial was conducted yesterday at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, where Cisco Systems officially unveiled its CRS-1 router. (For more information about the CRS-1, see "Cisco unveils CRS-1 router with OC-768c packet interface.")

"Today, the promise of high capacity Internet technology took another big step forward," asserts Jack Wimmer, MCI vice president of network architecture and advanced technology. "With the rapid growth of broadband access and the continuing need to deliver advanced capabilities to businesses, 40-Gbit/sec technology will enable MCI to cost-efficiently meet greater customer demand. The advancement today confirms the viability of 40-Gbit/sec technology."

The trial

MCI conducted the trial over an optical link between points of presence (PoPs) in San Francisco and San Jose and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

Traffic originated at the Museum, "where an OC-768c router was hooked via an OC-48c to the MCI PoP in San Jose. And at the PoP in San Jose, we converted [the traffic] to 40 Gbits again, and then transmitted it over two routes, for diversity reasons, up to our PoP in San Francisco," explains John Fee, a fellow with MCI's advanced technology organization. "In San Francisco, we had a bunch of video servers, some HD-TV signals, and an OC-768 packet tester that we used to tax the OC-768 bandwidth between San Francisco, San Jose, and the Computer Museum. We had Cisco's CRS-1 in San Francisco and San Jose, and there were several at the computer museum in Mountain View."

The services

The trial demonstrated the simultaneous transmission of HD-TV signals and 200 6-Mbit/sec TV signals from the servers in San Francisco to San Jose to the computer museum. At the museum, users downloaded iPod files and conducted video gaming between several locations. The trial also included VoIP transmission. Because these applications represent "only a small drop in the bucket of 40-Gbit/sec capability," says Fee, an OC-768 packet tester was used to tax the capacity between the sites.

"At 100% subscription rate at 40 Gbits/sec, the voice, the video, the downloaded files, and the HD-TV signal transmitting from San Francisco to San Jose to the computer museum--all of them were up and running and unperturbed because each application had its own quality of service," he reports.

Upgrading to 40-Gbit/sec technology will enable MCI to support bandwidth-intensive IP-based business applications like Web services, multimedia content distribution, grid computing, real time imaging, and storage networking. Customers will be able to send larger streams of content in just fractions of a second. With 40-Gbit/sec technology, for example, MCI could multicast approximately 2,000 HD-TV video streams simultaneously--four times faster than today's fastest connection, claim MCI representatives.

The future

For their part, the folks at MCI are excited about trial, which they believe proves the viability of 40-Gbit/sec networking. "We've been testing it, we understand it, and now we're starting to find devices such as Cisco's router that can actually 'talk' 40G so we can utilize some of the technology for the backbone," muses Fee.

The question now is when will the technology migrate from the trial stage to real network deployment?

"The market is going to dictate when these technologies are going to be deployed," contends Fee. While he cites both the availability of equipment and the demand for services as factors that will influence the timeline for 40-Gbit/sec deployment, Fee admits that demand may be the bigger issue. "The routers already have 40-Gbit interfaces that interface directly to the network," he says, "so the real key is who are the customers who are going to require us to deploy it in our network? That's why we're gearing up now to make sure it's tested and qualified, so that when the demand hits, we're there."

--MJF

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