Qwest upgrading backbone to 100Gbps

Alcatel-Lucent supplying Qwest with 100Gbps technology

Qwest has started upgrading its Ethernet backbone to 100Gbps, a project that the company says it will work on all throughout 2010.

Qwest says that once the upgrade is complete, the 100Gbps backbone will deliver service to markets where the company offers its Ethernet-based iQ Networking and QWave data networking services. The carrier says that it has already started building out 100Gbps capabilities on its Ethernet backbone and that it expects work on the project to continue “throughout 2010.” To help boost its network, Qwest is enlisting the aid of Alcatel-Lucent, which the carrier says will provide its 100Gbps Ethernet routing capability, as well as its optical, ultra long-haul platform.

Evolution of Ethernet

100G networks are seen by many as a logical progression from the current standard of 10G Ethernet. In 2006, the IEEE's Higher Speed Study Group (HSSG) voted to pursue 100G Ethernet as its next major Ethernet standard. The HSSG said last summer that it was aiming to have a single standard developed that covered both 40G and 100G speeds by 2010, marking the first time that an Ethernet standards group had agreed to create one standard for two different speeds.

Qwest is now the second U.S. carrier to announce its plans to build out a 100Gbps backbone. Verizon Business is currently working on upgrading its major routes in the United States to 100Gbps. Although the company had hoped to start deploying 100Gbps technology within the United States in 2009, the company is now spending most of this year testing out its capabilities with the goal of deploying the technology in 2010.

Verizon first tested its 100G capabilities in 2007 when it transmitted a live video feed over 312 miles from Tampa to Miami. Joseph Cook, Verizon Business' vice president for global network engineering, said that the 100G test "showed us that we could deploy 100G on routes and not disrupt current wavelengths."

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