Cisco announces 100G Ethernet at AT&T, Comcast

Also adds packet transport blade to CRS-3 based on MPLS; answers Juniper's Verizon 100G deployment and PTX system

On the heels of Verizon's announcement that it's turning up 100G Ethernet routes with Juniper routers, Cisco this week is said AT&T and Comcast are now deploying 100G Ethernet in production mode based on the CRS-3. Both had been trialing it for the past year or so.

Cisco also says it has 80 CRS-3 customers in 30 countries, a faster ramp than the original CRS-1 only a year after the CRS-3's overhyped introduction

These 100G deployments are promising signs for the router industry and its players. It indicates that buyers are not waiting for better price points before deploying 100G Ethernet, which is bit much at the moment. They need the capacity now, which means they'll buy and pay more for it now. 

Cisco's cumulative investment in the Cisco CRS line is $1.72 billion, and the company says it has shipped it to more than 450 service providers in more than 80 countries on every continent except Antarctica. Cisco says this represents 7.5 petabits per second of core bandwidth capacity shipped, enough to support a "basic" video conference call with every person on earth simultaneously.

Cisco this week also added a label switching blade to the CRS-3 to enable a packet transport capability designed to scale the core network. The packet transport blade is intended to replace standalone optical and electronic gear in the service provider network. So it will make the Cisco and the CRS-3 more competitive with optical vendors and with Juniper's new PTX system, which debuted last month.   

PTX is a massive switch under development at Juniper and expected to ship early next year. It combines switching and optics in order to transport packets faster then if they were processed through a router. Juniper wants to relegate routers to the edges of the network and devote the PTX chassis to switching. 

Cisco's approach appears to maintain the router at the core of the transport network -- even though fast packet transport requires little, if any, actual route processing. In any event, both propose a big MPLS switch/router as the best approach for packet/optical transport vs. an optical transport system that's packet-enabled - the "route" taken by optical vendors. 

The CRS-3 blade will be available in the third quarter. 

Next up with a 100G Ethernet deployment announcement should be Alcatel-Lucent, though at the network edge. Alcatel-Lucent just completed an Ethernet services trial with Verizon.

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