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XO Communications Braces For The Impending Optical Bandwidth Rush
Business recovery, new technology and new regulations are driving an ever expanding need for high speed bandwidth.

XO Communications is bracing itself for the optical bandwidth rush that's nearly imminent. Optical bandwidth rush? Are you kidding? Didn't bandwidth demand go poof with the telecom bubble? Yeah, well that was then and this is now.

Everything is Going Online
The telecom bust that ended the last century is the stuff of legends. It persists despite the recovery of the stock market and a transformation in business practices that's processing and bandwidth intensive. Just the business recovery alone could be enough to sop-up previous excess bandwidth build-out. But consider what else is happening. B2C and even B2B purchasing is moving more and more online. Design, manufacturing and customer service is outsourcing, often offshore. Paper based contracts, specifications, drawings and manufacturing instructions are all going electronic with direct electronic transfer preferred. Sarbanes-Oxley regulations are upping the demands for reporting and storage of financial data for public companies.

Every one of these activities is driving processing power, memory, electronic storage and LAN bandwidth. But as these IT infrastructures build up, the pressure increases to move massive amounts of data rapidly beyond the corporate walls. This is what is starting to fuel the bandwidth rush. Right now you see it in an expansion of T1 and T3 private lines between locations or to an MPLS network cloud. The copper line infrastructure is readily available and inexpensive. Higher bandwidth options are not universally available or are SONET based TDM circuits that require extensive engineering and long provisioning times.

XO's Bet On The Future
XO is also betting that fiber is the future. But not just more of the same fiber optic rings and point-to-point OCx connections. The future, as XO is planning for it, is based on high bandwidths, readily available, in multiple formats and rapidly provisioned. To make this possible, they've just brought a new generation inter-city fiber optic network online. The core network is running at 100 Gbps now, with expansion planned to 400 Gbps. That network spans 18,000 route miles to connect 75 major U.S. metropolitan markets. In addition, XO owns 9,100 route miles or 1 million fiber miles of local fiber networks in 37 metro markets.

Even more important than all this interconnecting fiber and the 4 to 10x bandwidth increase in network capacity, is the high density digital switching system provided by Infinera. Infinera's DTN system consists of 100 GB pluggable line cards based on photonic integrated circuits that make digital processing of analog wavelengths and their sub-wavelength signals more efficient that previous designs. The result is rapid provisioning and upgrades to customer services.

Available Bandwidth Services
What WAN services are available? XO's legacy DS1 through OC-48 intercity data services are expanded to include private line services at OC-192 speeds, Gigabit Ethernet, 10Gig Ethernet, and 40 Gbps Ethernet services, standard 2.5 Gbps and 10 Gbps optical carrier services, and generalized MPLS or GMPLS network intelligence.

With optical transport services as easy to come by as copper based lines, the floodgates will open for IP based remote storage and emergency backup, project design and simulation electronic data transfers, large scale call center operations, design center to corporate HQ to warehousing to factory links that run at the full LAN bandwidth, high definition video and digital movie / animation transmission. In short, electronic data that has been typically transferred by sending tapes and optical discs can now be sent cross-country over network lines. In many cases, the bandwidth is in place to make real-time transmission possible.

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