Did Cisco 'forever change the Internet?'

In recent weeks there were plenty of chuckles surrounding Cisco's impending announcement of a mysterious major product upgrade that the company claimed would "forever change the Internet." A bit dramatic, don't you think?

This week, Cisco introduced its new high-capacity CRS-3 (carrier routing system) capable of handling 322 Terabits per second, enough to enable every person in China to make a video call at the same time.

Already, the CRS-3 has gotten the attention of AT&T. The company tested the product in its recent 100 Gbps Ethernet field trial using a live route between New Orleans and Miami. Moreover, AT&T's trial signifies the ongoing movement large carriers are making to advance their networks to support the growing mix of consumer and business wireline and mobile applications.

On the mobile side, CRS-3 represents a way to help operators jazz up their core networks to deal with the onslaught of mobile data traffic. Cisco, which is obviously looking to be a powerhouse in the mobile core networks space through its high-priced acquisition of Starent Networks and its recent revelation that it won't build WiMAX radios any longer, believes it has a router that can sit in the network for a rather long time.

The router will form the backbone of AT&T's core network as it ratchets up capacity with HSPA 7.2 and LTE. "The AT&T IP backbone network today carries nearly 19 petabytes of traffic on an average business day, supporting our wireless, wired and enterprise customers' ever-growing demand for wireless and wired broadband applications," said AT&T Chief Technology Officer John Donovan in a statement.

Zeus Kerravala, a research fellow at Yankee Group, declared that "Cisco has set a new bar for network performance, delivering the industry's first 100 GigE-ready product with a total capacity of 322 Tbps--over 10 times that of its nearest competitor. Many may think we'll never need that much bandwidth, but the enterprise future of mobile TV, streaming media, YouTube, telepresence and 3-D HD TV surely demands it."

Still, such as solution isn't going to fully solve the data capacity conundrum in mobile networks. Mobile operators may have access to the routing capabilities at the core network, but data traffic can still hurt network performance and congestion at the radio access layer. We are now beginning to see some products, such as Alcatel-Lucent's Wireless Network Guardian, offering real-time traffic monitoring at the packet level across both the radio access and core networks since the composition of data traffic measured in the network core isn't representative of traffic in the individual cells. And of course, there is always the limitation of spectrum itself.--Lynnette

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