Finally Enough Bandwidth

Wayne Rash

Cisco's announcement of its new CRS-3 100 gigabit router is a critical development for the industry. This new network infrastructure behemoth has a capacity of over 322 terabits per second, vastly in excess of anything else that's out there. And it's here just in time.

Enterprise networking and the Internet backbone are growing exponentially in their traffic requirements. While this hasn't been obvious over the past year or so because of the now-fading global recession, those days are already over. Bandwidth demand is already so critical that the FCC officially welcomed the arrival of the CRS-3, saying it was necessary for bringing broadband to communities throughout the U.S.

What you're going to hear, of course, it that the CRS-3 is all about video. But the fact is, video is only part of the demand that's facing the broadband provider community in the U.S. Despite the popularity of the iPhone and other devices that can download movies, the fact is that most video is being delivered outside of the realm of IP networks, and probably will be for quite a while. After all, the major broadband companies are in many cases the major cable television companies, and they have their own means of delivery of video. Sending it out over the Internet isn't necessary for a lot of what they do.

In reality, the bulk of demand for the nationwide broadband infrastructure and for enterprise networks is plain ol' business data. The difference is that where once business data used to mean e-mail and Word documents, now it means PowerPoint slides, engineering drawings and corporate video (meaning stuff that's not entertainment). While these capabilities have been here for a while, the limits have been significant.

For example, you had to have the right carrier, you had to be in the right place, and you still had a limited choice as to who would carry your data. That's changing, although you won't see changes immediately. For example, right now there's a battle going on between Comcast and AT&T over who can deliver the first Fast Ethernet delivery to individual private users. AT&T was part of Cisco's announcement, having just returned from testing its 100 gigabit per second capability in partnership with Ixia.

Comcast clearly has something similar in mind. Right now, these services aren't deployed in the U.S., but it's clear from company positioning that they soon will be. Who will be the first to benefit from a really fast, affordable connection to the outside world? Perhaps the gamer down the street, but more likely it'll be your local emergency room, when they can retrieve your X-rays from offsite storage in seconds.

Yes, those iPhone users will love really fast connections so they can be even more absorbed in a video as they careen through their daily commute. But in reality, it'll benefit your bank and your company as they find they can actually use the cloud for something meaningful beyond secure backups.

There's no question that you'll benefit from this new, really fast network. But ignore the analysts who say it's all about video on your iPhone. In reality, it's all about how you work every day.

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