Bandwidth Bumps Continue in WAN

Have a large video file that you need to ship to a client? If so, one should expect that it will go through more easily now than it would have a few months ago.

Paul Korzeniowski

December 13, 2007

2 Min Read
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Have a large video file that you need to ship to a client? If so, one should expect that it will go through more easily now than it would have a few months ago.With more users accessing the Internet and many shipping larger, more complex files, WAN throughput has become a concern for many small and medium businesses. AT&T tried to address such problems with a significant upgrade to its backbone network .

The companys network now operates at 40G bps (previously it worked at 10G bps) without the need for multiplexing (combining multiple digital signals into a single optical channel). The higher speed is available on more than 50,000 wavelength miles supported by 18,000 miles of recently enhanced optical ultralong wiring. By the end of the month, more than 40 percent of the companys IP traffic carried will ride over this new platform.

The added WAN bandwidth comes at a time when computers are becoming more powerful and desktop applications more complicated. As users work with more multimedia applications, they need higher speed networks to carry that traffic. In fact, the volume of information small and medium businesses are generating is becoming mind boggling. AT&Ts network, which spans 547,000 fiber miles, transports more than 13.4 petabytes of data traffic on an average business day  the equivalent of more than 2.1 megabytes for every man, woman and child on the planet.

Backbone networks bear the brunt of such heavy loads because they become the central connection point among different locations. These network links also are the most prone to problems because they move information over the longest distances. Like other carriers, AT&T has been moving to the MPLS protocol to improve network resiliency. The companys network now can continue to transport data n the event of disruption of any single network link or node. In the coming months, the backbone will be enhanced with diversely homed edge sites, which provide multiple network paths through each network hub, as well as MPLS Fast Reroute technology, which enables service restoration in less than one second.

The availablity of resilient WAN bandwidth helps to ensure that small and medium businesses can run sensitive applications, such as ecommerce and Customer Relationship Management, without the threat of network disruptions. Also, pricing for WAN services drops, and the amount of bandwidth rises as carriers upgrade their backbone networks. Consequently, small and medium businesses may find it easier to justify needed network upgrades. Even those who tend to be a bit skittish need not worry about future performance problems. AT&T has already been tinkering with ways to boost the speed of its networks to 100G bps.

How much bandwidth do you have on your WAN? Do any bottlenecks arise? Have you been thinking about upgrading your WAN service?

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