So, what does this mean for your business? Qwest offered some perspectives on how fast point to point network traffic is at 100 Gbps. You know how long it takes to download a 4.7 Gigabyte DVD. At 100 Gbps, you can download 138 of them in 60 seconds. A 2 hour HD movie or presentation will transfer in 9 seconds flat. You can backup a fully loaded 500 Gigabyte hard drive in 46 seconds. For hospitals, medical centers and physicians offices, 100 Gbps will transfer 90 digital mammograms per second.
There actually are applications that could really benefit from this massive WAN bandwidth today. Movie and video production studios generate enormous databases for their projects. It’s a deluge of data that can clog up the kind of connection that works well for most businesses. With engineering and manufacturing now so distributed, it may make sense for large aerospace companies to have 100 Gbps bandwidth available. Someday even smaller architectural and design firms might not consider this level unreasonable, as prices come down.
Prices have already come down dramatically for WAN bandwidth. T1 lines cost half what they did a few years ago. Ethernet pricing has plunged even more dramatically. You might not have been able to get Metro Ethernet a few years ago. Now it’s readily available and at prices per Mbps that make it even cheaper than T1.
Your bandwidth options have also increased. Standard T1 line speeds of 1.5 Mbps are now considered entry level. Ethernet services scale easily from 1 to 10 Mbps over copper or fiber, and up to 100 Mbps or even 1 Gbps over fiber. While 100 Gbps service isn’t readily available quite yet, you can get 10 Gbps to your door.
Qwest has some ambitious goals for its network upgrade. It now serves 145 markets across the US and expects to add more. They’re installing new Alcatel-Lucent routers and switches out to the network edges. Fewer regeneration sites will be needed, reducing power demands. The overall upgrade is expected to enhance network protection and reduce latency as well.
Is there really a need for all this bandwidth? According to Qwest, Internet traffic is doubling about every 19 months. Individual Internet users are consuming 43 percent more bandwidth each year. That’s right, 43 percent more every year.
With the demands of downloadable and streaming video, electronic medical records, engineering design and simulation, and other high bandwidth applications, keeping ahead of bandwidth demands is a challenge for carriers. No only are they meeting the bandwidth need, but the latest IP based network designs are offering users new services such as Ethernet WAN and bandwidth pricing per Mbps that is better than ever.