Today I saw an eWeek story about Qwest turning up 100 gigabits of capacity on their network backbone, thanks to Alcatel-Lucent’s networking equipment. This is a far cry from trying to sell the backbone network, as the company had tried to do a few months back. Qwest is the first provider that I know of to use straight 100 Gbps equipment (rather than 10 Gbps or 40 Gbps on multiple wavelengths and/or fiber strands) though plenty of providers (like Cogent, Level3 and XO Communications) have more than 100 Gbps of capacity on many of their backbone links.
Of course, you need a beefy backbone when you’re running the third-largest DSL provider in the US, and when said DSL provider ust launched VDSL2 tiers to compete with cable providers’ DOCSIS 3 rollouts. There are rumblings that Qwest in some areas hasn’t allowed customers to purchase more than 12 Mbps down and 896 kbps up on their VDSL2 service even for people chose enough to the remote terminal to get more, due to lack of bandwidth availability. Then again, this is more likely due to the back of “middle mile” connectivity between Qwest remotes and the backbone; the speed limitation seems to suggest that the affected boxes are fed with copper T3s (45 megabits each way) rather than 100-megabit-plus fiber.
It will be interesting to see what happens to Qwest’s offerings, particularly on the high-end side, due to this backbone upgrade. It might mean cheaper bandwidth to large Qwest customers (like the FRGP, of which Mines is a member) or it might just mean that Qwest will be at 20% network utilization rather than 70%. The backbone upgrade probably won’t make the difference between getting faster DSL service in any given location at any point in time, but who knows?