by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) March 9, 2010
Cisco Systems on Tuesday unveiled super-fast Internet hardware that promises to boost US competitiveness and bolster economic recovery by moving mountains of data at astounding speeds.
The leader in networking equipment said its new router "triples the capacity of its predecessor," and "enables the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress to be downloaded in just over one second."
The system also would enable "every man, woman and child in China to make a video call, simultaneously; and every motion picture ever created to be streamed in less than four minutes," Cisco said.
The new Cisco hardware is for the backbones of telecom firms and other Internet service providers that will be able to vastly ramp up the amount of data they handle and how fast it travels.
"They are the plumbers of the Internet," analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley said of Cisco.
"They are the ones that make sure that the pipes are clean and large enough to handle the flow of traffic and remain up and running."
AT&T said it is testing the new routers in its network and is eager to use the technology on a wide scale.
The US telecom giant has found itself "bandwidth constrained" as people's lives increasingly revolve around the Internet and accessing rich content such as digital movies, videos and television shows.
Cisco chief executive John Chambers called digital video "the new killer app" and said that most gadgets connecting to the Internet are evolving to handle demand for such content.
The high-performance platform could also be tempting for Google, which recently revealed plans to create its own high-speed broadband Internet network.
"It's going to take a long time to deploy it," Enderle said of the new Cisco hardware. He expected people in the United States to begin seeing the effects of the new Cisco Internet hardware mid-decade.
"This is very important for Cisco, for the country, and for us individually," Enderle said.
"This could make the country more competitive, not just by selling the technology but by how it increases the ability of players here to perform in an Internet Age economy."
With 12 times the traffic capacity of the nearest competing system, the Cisco CRS-3 "is designed to transform the broadband communication and entertainment industry by accelerating the delivery of compelling new experiences for consumers, new revenue opportunities for service providers, and new ways to collaborate in the workplace," the company said.
Internet traffic is predicted to grow fivefold by the year 2013, with 90 percent of that content being digital video, according to Cisco senior director of service provider marketing Doug Webster.
Add to that data demands fueled by a booming global smartphone market and an unabated trend of software applications being offered online as services.
Along with ramped up capacity, the new routers have been made with "twice the intelligence" to keep data flowing efficiently, smoothly deliver video, and prioritize emergency telephone calls, Webster told AFP.
"The Internet is becoming a part of all aspect of our daily lives," Webster said. "We need assurance that it is in strong shape and can keep up with the incredible demand for services."
The routers will be available about mid-year at a starting price of 90,000 dollars per unit. Cisco said it is in discussions with Internet service providers around the world.
"Bandwidth can basically be the foundation for economic prosperity and social transformation," Webster said, noting that high-speed Internet can be used to improve health care, education, and transparency in governments.
Not all analysts were swept up in Cisco's euphoria, saying that the new router is evolutionary, not revolutionary and that other parts of the Internet infrastructure will need to be upgraded for users to notice much improvement.
Internet service providers still stinging from the economic meltdown could be slow to open wallets to invest in the new routers, some analysts cautioned.
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