Networld + Interop: Bandwidth, Security the Buzz Words (continued)

New Bandwidth Options

The discussion of Internet bandwidth served as a broad backdrop for announcements of new Internet access services and products.

AT&T, the latecomer to the Internet among the major carriers, augmented its business Internet services with new, tiered T-3 connectivity choices, and single billing for local-loop provisioning and Internet services.

“This is a continuation of AT&T’s refocus on business IP services,” said Eric Wolford, director of marketing for WorldNet Business Internet Services. “Demand for Internet access has been enormous, and our new pricing and service options lets us target a broader market.”

Over its own meshed T-3 and OC-3 (155 Mbps) backbone, AT&T will now offer multiple incremental bandwidth levels for dedicated access, including between 56 Kbps and 1.5 Mbps on a T-1 circuit, between 1.5 and 12 Mbps via multiple T-1 lines, and between 10 Mbps and 45 Mbps on multiple T-3s. Wolford said that a full T-1-including local loop-costs $2,695 for anywhere in the U.S.

Also last week, Concentric Network introduced ConcentricHost Managed Server, which will provide Web servers hosted in one of its five U.S. or three international data centers with burstable bandwidth of up to 100 Mbps.

The new service, which is positioned to compete with hosting services from Exodus Communications and Frontier GlobalCenter, is available in four different Windows NT or Unix dedicated server configurations, starting at $1,425 per month.

“The people most interested in this are customers that offer a lot of downloads from their site or that simply have lots of traffic,” said Connie DeWitt, Concentric director of application hosting services. “They want somebody who can handle bursts of bandwidth, and they don’t want to have to go through the cost-and the long wait-of getting the bandwidth themselves.”

But even as Internet backbone bandwidth is rapidly ramping up, high-bandwidth “last-mile” connectivity for businesses and consumers, whether in the form of T-1 circuits, cable modems, or Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), still lags in availability.

A partnership announced at N+I by Dell Computer, Cisco Systems, and US West could be another catalyst for making DSL technology a mass-market service, however. Dell said it will offer Cisco Asymmetric DSL modems in select Dell desktop PCs later this year, which will give subscribers of US West MegaBit Services access speeds of up to 7 Mbps. US West plans to roll out the service in 40 cities in its 14 state region by mid year; GTE also recently announced an aggressive DSL deployment in 16 states, to commence next month.

In a keynote address at the show, Uunet Technologies CEO John Sidgmore said the Internet industry is growing more quickly than any other in history–with bandwidth requirements doubling every three and half months, yielding an annual growth rate of 1000 percent, it even outpaces the PC industry.

“No matter how you cut it, 1000 percent growth per year represents a scaling challenge that is unprecedented in history,” Sidgmore said. “This is a world where we are building networks at a rate that no one has ever built them before.”

Though some observers have suggested the scorching Internet bandwidth upswing will eventually slow down, Sidgmore–who projected that by 2003, Internet traffic will constitute more than 90 percent of all bandwidth in the world–suggested that current bandwidth needs reflect only new users coming online. Future demand, he said, will be driven by new high-bandwidth applications, such as “silicon cockroaches,” IP-enabled devices that communicate with other computers, he said.

To meet the massive bandwidth demand, ISPs and telcos are upgrading their networks as quickly as possible and, to maximize capacity over existing infrastructure, are also trying new technologies, such as Wave Division Multiplexing (WDM), which can increase throughput over fiber-optic lines by 20 times or more.

“WDM is perhaps the most important single technology development in the past 15 years in terms of adding capacity,” said Sidgmore.

He added that Uunet has also fed its need to grow by acquiring ANS and CompuServe Network Services last September in a three-way deal with America Online and CompuServe. Last week, Uunet executives said they have completed the majority of the work to integrate those networks, resulting in two new Internet divisions within WorldCom, Uunet’s parent company.

Like WorldCom, Sprint’s tremendous bandwidth needs have primarily been driven by new Internet traffic, said Fred Harris, Sprint’s director of network planning and design. Using WDM-based equipment, Sprint will by 1999 have increased almost 90 percent of its network to handle 240 Gbps.
“We asked, ‘How do you handle exponential bandwidth growth over your existing fiber?’ The answer is WDM,” Harris said.

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