Cisco Systems just revealed its new CRS 3 datacenter-level broadband router. Constrain your whoops of joy, Net infrastructure geeks. But the rest of us probably should pay attention: It may transform AT&T's mobile broadband.
Cisco's hardware—the mysterious lumps of metal, plastic, and silicon standing in racks inside datacenters and telecommunications management facilities—is absolutely key to enabling much of the way current Internet signals get routed around the World. This is a multi-billion-dollar business that you may never think about when you flick on Safari on your iPhone, in much the same way you probably don't think about the oil extraction and refinement processes that lie behind enabling your car to start in the morning.
Hence Cisco's Carrier Routing System 3 (CRS3) is absolutely vital to the "next generation of Internet" (as Cisco, slightly weirdly, puts it). Simply put, it helps make sure the Net itself works as more and more of us get online and expect faster and more sophisticated experiences. It's a router that distributes Net connections to different users inside data centers—and it's three times faster than its predecessor, running at 322 terabits per second (for comparison, my home broadband is 24mbps, over 13 million times slower.)
Cisco's press presentation on the matter made a huge thing about video being the "killer app" of the future Internet—and video, whether it's streamed movies from Netflix, archived footage on YouTube, or live-transmission videoconferencing, really needs serious data rates if it's to work. Furthermore, cloud services are beginning to hit the public consciousness, driven by events like Microsoft's next-gen Office systems, and if a cloud-based service is to remain seamless from a user point of view, the connection up and down to the cloud needs to be fast.
Once you dig through the irritating business-speak of Cisco's news, this is all pretty groovy. But AT&T's Labs president and CEO Keith Cambron was also in the presentation, and his frank explanations really betray why users will benefit: CRS3 will enable AT&T to turbo-boost its consumer-level mobile broadband services. Given the controversy surrounding the current level of service from AT&T to iPhone users, this is absolutely vital—Cambron noted AT&T's seen a 5,000% boom in mobile broadband traffic over the last three years, and this will continue. So it's good to hear AT&T is investing heavily in the future of its infrastructure to ensure the next iPhone and 3G iPad will deliver excellent high-speed mobile broadband connections. Dare we wonder if Cambron's frequent mention of video also indicates the next-gen iPhones will allow 3G video calling?
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