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Verizon says Cisco fiber tech will let it hit 1.2TB on the cheap

Verizon is looking to get more bandwidth out of its backbone network and it seems some new Cisco technology could help it do so without the need to spend big on adding new fiber. Adam Koeppe, Verizon’s SVP of Technology Planning, told Fierce it is aiming to start upgrading its network with the new technology in the back half of next year.

The operator just wrapped a proof-of-concept trial using Cisco’s NCS 1014 transceiver shelf and Acacia’s Coherent Interconnect Module 8 (CIM 8). During the test, Koeppe said Verizon was not only able to hit speeds of 1.2 Tbps on a single wavelength, but it was also able to do so over longer distances than previous technologies would have been capable of.

Why does this matter? Well, Koeppe said this means Verizon will be able to “increase the amount of data that’s sent through existing connections by improving the quality of the signal that goes through our fiber.” This will be done essentially by upgrading the data cards on its existing Cisco equipment. And doing that is much, much faster and cheaper than adding capacity via running new fiber, he said.

The technology in question will be applied to Verizon’s core network, which is not to be confused with its Fios network. The latter falls into the category of an access network, alongside Verizon’s wireless and fixed wireless assets. The core network supports all three access networks (as Verizon intended with its OneFiber initiative), which is notable given 51% of all Verizon’s cell sites are connected to its backbone and the operator continues to expand its Fios footprint.

Koeppe said the idea behind the forthcoming Cisco upgrades is to stay ahead of rising traffic demand to “ensure that the core network is never the bottleneck to growth.”

According to Koeppe, Verizon expects the necessary Cisco products to be available by the middle of 2024, setting the stage for it to undertake core upgrades on a case-by-case bases in regions where traffic demand is growing fastest in the back half of the year.

Asked how many points in its network it plans to upgrade, Koeppe said it’s hard to quantify at this point but noted “thousands of locations” are in play. That includes Fios central offices and all the distributed locations along its transport network. Deployment of the new tech will be “rapid,” he added.

Last year, Verizon talked up core upgrades it was undertaking with another of its vendors, Juniper. A Verizon representative said the Cisco announcement is “directionally similar” and “extension of describing the evolution happening in the core,” but declined to comment on how much the changes will expand its total capacity.

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