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AT&T's New Ethernet Trials Reach Blistering Speeds

March 21, 2017

Our appetite for bandwidth, it seems, only increases with every passing day. Between streaming video and a host of cloud-based applications—and that's before we get done with work and go home to even more demands for bandwidth—there's no limit to what we can do, at least, until we run out of bandwidth. AT&T recently concluded a start to new tests that will see some impressive Ethernet speeds come into play, and potentially open up a new flood of available bandwidth.

The recent tests concluded with Ethernet data speeds clearing 400 gigabit, which represents a potential quadrupling of network speed overall if all goes as planned. The initial trials called for a connection established between Washington, DC and New York, which went successfully and proved that AT&T's network would be ready for the upcoming push into next generation speeds.  Using a software-defined networking (SDN) controller, a service could be established between the two cities, and further software controls allowed for a simulated network failure, which could be addressed accordingly.

With that concluded, the second phase of a multi-phase test could be conducted, as AT&T prepares to set up a 400GbE service transported using AT&T's OpenROADM metro network. If this test successfully concludes, then AT&T will have readily demonstrated that 400GbE service can be offered to customers in metro areas.  A subsequent test will demonstrate the first-ever instance of a 400GbE open router on the system, combining both open-source software with “merchant silicon.”

All of these tests together combine to create what will hopefully one day be a platform of immense connectivity, delivering new speeds and new capability to places that have barely even seen high-speed Internet before, let alone had the chance to use it. 5G is being touted as able to do quite a bit, from driving the Internet of Things (IoT) to its fullest level to bringing the most powerful of connection to places that have long been listed as “underserved.” To get there, though, it's going to require a lot of infrastructure shifts, and that includes an ultra-powerful Ethernet capability able to handle these speeds.

AT&T's work is helping to make sure the system will be ready to accommodate both these speeds and this bandwidth, and the multiple tests should ensure it works. There's a lot waiting for us on the other side, and only the right systems in place will make sure it's actually available to use.

Edited by Alicia Young

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