Mind you, we're talking about a service, a 100-Gbit/s pipe going to one customer. Carriers have said for some time that 100-Gbit/s Ethernet equipment would come in handy if it were available today. (See Facebook: Yes, We Need 100-GigE.) Now, some high-end Ethernet providers see the same potential for services.
"I think the early movers in the enterprise space that would use 100 Gbit/s were existing six months ago," said Rajiv Datta, chief technology officer of AboveNet Inc. (NYSE: ABVT).
Michael Rouleau, senior vice president of business development at tw telecom inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC), said his company is working with customers and equipment vendors now, in preparation for 100-Gbit/s services: "They're not just looking at inverse multiplexing. They're looking at 100 Gbit/s."
Optimum Lightpath likewise sees a need -- not surprising, considering its territory includes New York's clutch of Type A financial firms. "The question is: When does the service become viable from an economic standpoint?" said Christopher Rabii, senior vice president of technical operations for Optimum Lightpath. "Right now, it's obviously too soon. But if you're going to say, 'Is it five years away?' No way. It's much sooner than that."
Panelists stressed, though, that putting up a 100-Gbit/s service won't be all that easy. At least if you try to do it right away.
"The challenge is that it's an ecosystem," Datta said. "You have to take that 100 Gbit/s and connect it to something."
Oh yeah, that problem. Ethernet gear is only beginning to sprout 100-Gbit/s interfaces. Commercial availability probably won't start in earnest until mid-2010, and the interfaces will be expensive at first. (See Hitachi Preps P-OTS Box, Huawei's Doing 100-Gig, Too, AlcaLu Readies 100GigE Cards , and Juniper Claims 100-Gig First.)
"As soon as that picture comes together, I think there'll be early movers that'll use it," Datta said.