WorldCom, operator of one of the largest internet protocol backbones in the world, sees speed and volume as keys to the future. To achieve a bigger, faster backbone, the company is implementing or testing next-generation products and technologies ranging from Multiprotocol Label Switching to Internet Protocol version 6.
Despite the collapse of many Internet-related businesses, WorldCom still sees customers demanding more, says Vint Cerf, WorldComs senior vice president for Internet architecture and technology. Thats especially true when streaming video and audio or very large financial databases are involved. "Its not unusual to find a customer who might buy a 45-megabit[-per-second (DS-3)] connection, and a year later or less ask for an OC-3 [155-Mbps] or a 622-megabit[-per-second (OC-12)] connection," Cerf says. "Its astonishing to see how quickly they fill" capacity.
WorldComs backbone is a legacy of UUnet; its network spans six continents and includes more than 2,500 points of presence. The background serves more than 70,000 businesses in 100 countries.
Cerf says the network has been upgraded to a speed of 10 gigabits per second, and in late March achieved 3.2 terabits per second — 80 channels at 40 Gbps each. WorldCom, under the direction of Chief Operating Officer Ron Beaumont, strives for ever-faster routers; its best, from Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks, can push 10 Gbps, and can handle many interfaces.
Last year, WorldCom began migrating from Asynchronous Transfer Mode to speedier MPLS. The project should be completed next year.
Separate from its primary network, WorldCom is targeting large financial customers to purchase Very high-speed Backbone Network Service, which uses IPv6.
In the longer term, Cerf expects the network to adopt optical switching. Researchers are working on photon-switching techniques and may begin testing later this year.