Sprint enables 100G Ethernet wavelength services, sets path for 400G

Sprint (NYSE: S) continues to make progress with its own 100G optical path by completing two key trials of the technology on its wireline network.

Working with its optical systems partner Ciena (Nasdaq: CIEN), the service provider deployed a 100G circuit over a 1,304-mile span in the United States and recently completed a live 400G trial.

During its 100G circuit trial, which is now integrated into its network infrastructures and is in-service between Chicago and Fort Worth, Texas, it did not need to conduct regeneration between each point. Sprint said that being able to transmit at longer distance enables the service provider to reduce latency and increase reliability.

Mike McRoberts, Director of Product Management and Development for Sprint, in an interview with FierceTelecom, said that the 100G network capabilities will help it support the content providers that supply services to its wireless customers and other uses.

"There's a lot of demand for higher speed services and we have and are a big provider of 10 Gig dedicated IP service primarily for content providers who support our wireless customers with the content," he said. "In fact, we have content providers asking us for 100 Gig dedicated IP pipes so you got to have the backbone to deliver that and we're on the road to put the backbone in place to deliver that."

As it continues to upgrade other routes to 100G, the service provider is going to launch an Ethernet wave service that will offer speeds of 10, 40 and 100 Gbps soon.

Sprint has not provided a date when it will officially launch the higher speed wavelength services, but McRoberts said the interest is there.  

"There are lots of customer opportunities out there for data center to data center networking that just need massive bandwidth in order to support cloud service intiatives, virtualization," he said. "The more you do in the cloud, the more bandwidth you need and the more those cloud services support a combination of wired business applications or wireless business and consumer applications available on any device."

The service provider said that the 100G technology it has deployed will enable it to achieve speeds up to 10X faster and, later, up to 40x faster without network upgrades. Its Ethernet Wave Services can provide 100G speeds now and 400G in the future.

In its 400G trial in Silicon Valley, Sprint ran 400 Gbps channels alongside existing channels carrying live customer traffic. While it has not announced any specific date as to when it would need 400G, it said that it "foresees the opportunity to add a network equivalent of high-speed traffic lanes for customers with high-demand requirements."

"Now we know that 100 Gig isn't the end game and we can go to 400 Gig," McRoberts said. "We don't have demand for that kind of service, but there's definitely demand for much higher port speed services for dedicated IP content providers."

As previously reported, Sprint is upgrading its optical network backbone with Ciena's 6500 platform to support its Network Vision initiative.

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Updated article on August 16 with quotes from Sprint's Mike McRoberts.