Japanese Providers Expand Internet Backbone Capacities
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Prompted by the continuing growth of Internet traffic and the potential cost-savings for traditional telephony applications, Japanese telecommunications firms and Internet service providers are expanding their backbone networks.
On March 10, International Digital Communications (IDC) announced the addition of a 155-megabit-per-second (mbps) Internet backbone connection between Japan and the US. The new line boosts IDC's total Japan-US backbone capacity by over 170 percent, to 245 mbps.
IDC trails Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ) in trans-Pacific backbone capacity expansion, however.
Operator of Japan's largest Internet backbone, IIJ has added 200 mbps of additional capacity to its Japan-US backbones since the start of the year.
And in late February, the company added a new 155 mbps line to the existing 45M bps link between IIJ Tokyo and MAE-WEST in California, thereby more than quadrupling its Tokyo-San Jose backbone capacity.
These two backbone upgrades, combined with its 155 mbps Tokyo-Palo Alto (DIX) connection, give IIJ a total Japan-US bandwidth of 445 mbps.
According to a company spokesperson, IIJ will further expand its Osaka-New York backbone in April.
Since installing its first international dedicated line in March 1994, IIJ has increased its US-Japan backbone capacity by more than 200,000 percent.
Of the approximately one dozen other Japan-based ISPs that currently have a 45M bps or greater connection to the US, PSINet Japan recently announced plans to more than double its existing 90M bps Japan-US backbone by next year.
While the vast majority of Japan's international IP links is with the US, backbone connections with other regions are also increasing.
IIJ's 245 mbps Japan-US backbone, for example, also connects directly to countries throughout Asia via the A-Bone, the Asia-wide Internet backbone network operated by IIJ-affiliate Asia Internet Holding (AIH).
By the end of the month, when it is scheduled to make a 2M bps connection with ChinaNet, A-Bone will be tied into IP networks in 10 Asia-Pacific countries.
Japan's other big international Internet backbone network is linked to Neweb, the Internet service network of long-distance carrier KDD.
In February, KDD announced the opening of a new backbone link between Neweb and the IP network of Sweden's Telia. And just last week, Neweb announced connections with Teleglobe Canada and Digital Communications Philippines.
Neweb now has links with about three dozen providers in some 20 countries throughout the Asia-Pacific, Europe, the North America.
Japan's major telecom carriers are planning new domestic IP-based backbones as well.
In December 1998, Japan Telecom announced it will convert its existing Japan backbone into an IP network to be called "PRISM" (Progressive and Revolutionary Integration Service Media).
In January, KDD detailed plans for upgrading its backbone networks by introducing "IP over WDM," a method of directly connecting IP and wavelength division multiplex (WDM) equipment. KDD says this new technology will enable creation of a super-high-speed network without the conventional telephony switches and transmission equipment it is now using, thus significantly lowering the cost.
Testing of this next-generation "KDD Terabit Highway," or "KTH21," starts this month, but actual IP-over-WDM services are not expected to be available domestically for another three years, and not until around 2005 internationally.
This network, to be called the Powered IP Network (PIN), will be operated by an umbrella organization known as Power Nets Japan (PNJ). The PNJ group carriers plan to begin domestic trials next year, and aim to eventually deliver a bandwidth of 100 gigabits per second.
With three major telecom groups having announced plans to build IP backbones, others are likely to follow suit.