Verizon to offer 100G links, resilient mesh on optical networks

The carrier will upgrade metro networks in the U.S. and other countries to 100-gigabit and use mesh designs for recovery from breaks

Looking ahead to growing demand for bandwidth to feed large companies and computing clouds, Verizon Communications announced steps on Friday to increase the speed of the links its enterprise customers can buy and to make its network connections more resilient.

Verizon already has 100Gbps (gigabit-per-second) connections over its optical core networks across continents. Now the carrier is bringing that speed to its metro networks, which enterprises tap into for high-speed data connections. The metro networks so far have been limited to 10Gbps or 40Gbps, so that's all enterprises have been able to buy, according to Glenn Wellbrock, Verizon's director of Optical Transport Network Architecture and Design.

Though the carrier doesn't expect many customers to start ordering 100Gbps connections soon, it is preparing for the future, Wellbrock said. For example, many large organizations are looking for 10-gigabit links, and where Verizon has 100-Gigabit capability, it can quickly divide those fat pipes into narrower connections, he said.

Verizon's 100-gigabit U.S. backbone technology forms the basis of a high-speed, low-latency network for financial trades that was inaugurated between Chicago and New York last month. It can complete a stock trade in as little as 14.5 milliseconds, according to the carrier. The carrier doesn't yet have 100-gigabit capability across the Atlantic or Pacific but is working on it, Wellbrock said.

Also on Friday, Verizon said it has begun to use the same general architecture for high-speed land-based networks, such as those in North America and Europe, that it already uses for its connections across oceans. That architecture, based on a mesh of cables, gives traffic across its core network more alternate routes to take if one cable breaks. This is a step up from a ring architecture, in which the network recovers by sending bits the other way around the ring if one spot on it is damaged. This has limitations.

"If you had two outages at the same time, you were out of business," Wellbrock said.

Verizon already has mesh networks across the Pacific and across the Atlantic, each with eight alternate paths. Traffic can be rerouted over the quickest path across the mesh in the event of a disaster. Because of the trans-Pacific mesh, Verizon's network recovered after its cables were damaged in the earthquake, aftershocks and tsunami that hit Japan last year, according to the carrier. "It's gotten us out of a lot of jams," Wellbrock said.

Now, Verizon is building that capability into high-capacity land-based networks in a global initiative, upgrading not just the carrier's domestic U.S. system but also networks in key markets elsewhere in the world. The move is designed to bring greater reliability to enterprises' high-speed links. This will be a gradual process, Verizon said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is

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