Free uses Cisco carrier routing technology to expand network

27 MAY 2009 -- The France-based service provider has deployed additional Cisco CRS-1 Carrier Routing Systems in Lyon, Strasbourg, and Bordeaux.


27 MAY 2009 -- Cisco (search Lightwave for Cisco) reports that Iliad Group subsidiary Free, a triple-play-over-broadband operator in Europe, is continuing to expand its Cisco Internet Protocol next-generation network (IP NGN) infrastructure to increase its capacity for future subscriber demand and to deliver higher bandwidths to existing users. At the end of March 2009, Iliad Group had more than 4.3 million broadband subscribers.

Following a EUR 1 billion investment plan to bring FTTH to 4 million households by the end of 2012, Free is expanding its national footprint with additional Cisco CRS-1 Carrier Routing System deployments in Lyon, Strasbourg, and Bordeaux, interconnected by a high-performance converged IP/optical network. According to Free, the investments will help the provider offer its rich-media entertainment and communications services to subscribers throughout France.

Maxime Lombardini, chief executive officer of Iliad (Free), says, "Cisco CRS-1 systems have played a vital role in our network since 2006, and Cisco's innovations on the CRS-1 platform have allowed us to continually meet and exceed our vision for delivering the very best broadband services in Europe[...] With this latest network expansion, we can offer an improved experience to current subscribers who are increasingly using video, social networking, and collaboration applications and establish the foundation to achieve our 5 million subscriber target by 2011."

Free is converging its DWDM optical network onto a completely IP-based infrastructure by installing Cisco 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) IP over DWDM (IPoDWDM) line cards in all Cisco CRS-1 systems throughout its network. By using this IPoDWDM technology, Free eliminates the need for optical-electrical-optical (OEO) conversions in the network, reducing visits to its points of presence (PoPs) to provision new services and streamlining the management of the complete network via a single interface.

"Service providers around the world are under increasing pressure to deliver more and more from their networks, both in the capacity to deliver more services and in the flexibility of rolling out these services quickly. A unified infrastructure based on integrated IP and optical technology is vital, as it helps the service provider to create a very competitive cost base, while simplifying operations and improving service velocity," says Laurent Blanchard, managing director of Cisco France and vice president for Cisco Europe. "Free's continued success and growth is a prime example of how the capabilities of the Cisco CRS-1 and a converged IPoDWDM network can be used to deliver the next-generation services that consumers demand."

The Cisco CRS-1 was reportedly the first router to scale to more than 90 Tbps of bandwidth capacity. Since its launch, new features such as integrated IPoDWDM transponders, secure domain routing, and 100GbE support have been added. To date, more than 3,200 CRS-1 systems have been shipped to more than 300 customers around the world.

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