CenturyLink, LGS to upgrade DoD's DREN network to 40G

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) and its government systems partner LGS Innovations have been tapped by the Department of Defense (DoD) to upgrade the Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN) to support 40 Gbps at five of its supercomputing locations.

DREN is a far-reaching fiber network that links five DoD supercomputing facilities to 4,300 scientists at more than 150 agencies and research sites within the United States.

Delivering a mix of Ethernet, IP and optical wavelength services, DREN currently offers speeds from 50 Mbps to 40 Gbps, depending on the particular site.

"Under DREN II these five supercomputing centers were using OC-48 speeds and then when we did our initial implementation we went to 10 G," said Greg Taylor, Area Vice President, DOD sales for CenturyLink, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "Now we're going to 40 G, which if you do the math is 16 times the bandwidth for their supercomputing centers in DREN III." 

One of the first sites that will get the 40 Gbps connection will be the Navy DoD Supercomputing Resource Center at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, which operates national test facilities for the rocket engine propulsion programs.

For its own part in this network upgrade, LGS is working as a subcontractor to CenturyLink to engineer the 40G network that will not only address the growing complexity of DREN customers' requirement, but also address their security requirements.

LGS supplied CenturyLink with Alcatel-Lucent's 7750 service 12E service router, which is a product that can not only support existing 1G and 10G services, but also 40G, 100G and 200G.

Having already been awarded the 10-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract worth up to $750 million in late 2012, this contract task is another proof point for CenturyLink's public sector division. At that time, CenturyLink was able to outseat the incumbent provider Verizon (NYSE: VZ).

Taylor said that one of the initial challenges with migrating these give DoD supercomputing facilities to support 40G is that CenturyLink initially did not have facilities connected to them. Having built these facilities to each supercomputing site, the telco will be able to address the migration to 100G.

"The challenges on the network side was that the access into these sites was not there so it's always a challenge to get the bandwidth capabilities to get onto the sites," Taylor. "Each one of these sites required new access builds because there was not existing access facilities available so that's one of the challenges when you go to 40G, but now that we did the build outs it will make it a lot easier when  the day comes when we go to 100G for these sites."

Looking forward, CenturyLink is also poised to work with the DoD as it considers leveraging next-gen technologies such as NFV and SDN. 

"If you look at the DREN network over I and II, they are always on the forefront of the DoD networks," Taylor said. "Things happen on the DREN network before it happens on the traditional telecom networks, and we're looking forward in the future being partners with DREN as new technologies like SDN that we want to be part of in the future."

For more:
- see the release

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This article was updated on June 12 with additional informaiton from CenturyLink and LGS Solutions.