Midco makes every effort to stay on the leading edge. In fact, we continuously enhance and expand our services to serve our customer base, which includes 300,000 residential and business customers in 335 communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
We recently announced that we’ll be upgrading most of our residential systems with DOCSIS 3.1 by the end of 2017 to provide gigabit internet access speeds. With this upgrade, Midco Gig downloads will be 35 times the national average and five times faster than Midco Xstream® 200 – something we are pretty proud of.
On the business front, we recently acq (more…)
Director Product Marketing
In 2009, Kate Greene, a technology writer based here in Silicon Valley, coined a new term to describe Stanford University’s OpenFlow project in an article that appeared in the MIT Technology Review. That term – software-defined networking (SDN) – was seen as tautological by some, with the state-of-the-art approach confirming the pre-existing separation of the forwarding and control planes. Today, SDN has evolved from a descriptor to an entirely new market category. There has been a lot of hype surrounding SDN and its ability to enable network operators of all types to simplify transport networks, reduce capital and operating costs, and quickly and easily deliver new, on-demand services.
Or so the story goes.
In fact, use cases such as network functions virtualization (NFV) service chaining are driving the first phase of SDN adoption within the data center domain. Central offices are being re-architected as data centers (CORD) and mobile operators are virtualizing their evolved packet core, also known as vEPC. At the other end of the network, the customer premise equipment (CPE) is also being virtualized. Network operators have, however, yet to deploy SDN widely across the packet-optical transport domain.
Why is this so? After all, Transport SDN controllers have been available for several years now, and the industry has made the network more programmable through open, standards-based application programming interfaces (APIs). On the demand side, service providers and enterprises increasingly require more dynamic bandwidth services, driven primarily by the adoption of cloud-based applications and content.
A big reason for the slow progress in Transport SDN lies in a simple truth about networks: any control plane is only as good as its underlying data plane. In today’s networks, service providers require frequent truck rolls and manual installation of line cards just to turn up additional wavelengths in the data plane. Even if an SDN controller is available to automate provisioning functions – determining when, where and how additional capacity should be activated – the network often lacks the ability to respond quickly. Another reason is the development approach vendors have chosen for their Transport SDN solutions, with element and network management systems being retrofitted for SDN control. Given these challenges it should come as no surprise that today’s Transport SDN offerings have not met customer requirements for openness and multi-layer control.
How SANET Created a Different Kind of Network Backbone: A discussion between Marian Ďurkovič, SANET and Geoff Bennett, Infinera
Marian Ďurkovič is the network architect for the Slovak Republic’s National Education and Research Network, SANET. Last year SANET selected Infinera during a public tender for a new network backbone, and Marian is now taking full advantage of the capabilities of the Infinera Cloud Xpress platform to create a new and highly cost-effective backbone architecture. Here Geoff Bennett, Director of Solutions and Technology at Infinera, interviews Marian about this novel network architecture.
Geoff Bennett: Marian, welcome to the Infinera Blog. Just to set the scene perhaps I can summarize for our readers that SANET has recently deployed a national research and education transport network backbone across the Slovak Republic. Here’s a diagram of that network, which has seventeen 100 gigabit per second (100G) point of presence (PoP) locations, and supports packet-based services for the academic and research community in the Slovak Republic. The reason that I wanted to talk to you about this network is that it uses a rather innovative combination of technologies, and I’d like to ask you to explain why it is so unique.
Marian Ďurkovič: Yes, I think it is really quite unique. So what we did was to take a step back from a typical transport network architecture, which I think we can characterize as having dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM), optical transport network (OTN) and packet layers, and ask how much of this traditional set of technologies do we really need. After all, the distances for each hop are not very far, and we can define the set of services we support as packet-based. So this avoids the need to support legacy time-division multiplexing (TDM) service types, and gives us the opportunity to optimize the functionality.
Geoff Bennett: Excellent – so what does this architecture actually look like? (more…)
Director of Solutions and Technology
As a confirmed technogeek, I was delighted when my recent purchase arrived this week – the Samsung Gear virtual reality (VR) headset, which uses the Oculus VR technology recently acquired by Facebook.
These headsets have really dropped in price recently, and part of the reason they’re such a good value is that they use one’s existing Samsung phone as the screen – combining it with good stereo optics and high-resolution, low-latency accelerometers built into the headset. While the resolution of high-end phone screens is great for everyday use, the VR headset has to share the phone screen resolution between both eyes, which means I occasionally notice individual pixels. But I quickly discounted that as the 3D VR experience drew me in, and within minutes of starting to use the VR headset I was totally immersed in travel photos and 3D movies.
The experience made me realize that an entry-level device like this one foreshadows the enormous potential of VR technology. A great illustration of these trends was used in a presentation at the recent Next Generation Optical Networking (NGON) conference by Steve Grubb, PhD, a senior network architect at Facebook. I was much impressed by Steve’s description of the new Oculus VR technology that is projected to one day deliver 4K or even higher resolution. Now that I’ve seen the power of what I consider low-definition VR, the idea of ultra-high-definition, pixel-free VR piped into each eye, with 360 degree video data synchronized to head movement, is truly exciting. More importantly from the network operator perspective, imagine the impact on network bandwidth that this level of resolution will demand, since many of these VR experiences are streamed rather than downloaded and run locally.
This is yet another answer to the perennial question of “why would anyone ever need more than X megabits per second of bandwidth?” (in which X moves up quite a bit every year). In fact, an immersive, 4K VR experience would make a big dent in a 1 gigabit per second (1G) feed. (more…)
Principal Product Marketing Manager
For the past few years hyperscale Internet content providers (ICPs) have been attracting attention because the global network investments they are making to interconnect their data centers are outpacing investments being made by traditional service providers. Once again in 2015, ICP investments in data center interconnect (DCI) grew fastest, more than doubling the growth rate of every other segment, according to Ovum’s recently published Market Share Report: 4Q15 and 2015 Data Center Interconnect (DCI). The ICP segment is now 34% of the global DCI market, and over 50% of the largest market, North America.
It should come as no surprise that competition to serve this large and fast-growing market is fierce. But perhaps some observers might be surprised to learn that Infinera has not only maintained its strong lead in the market, which it first gained in early 2014, it has increased that lead dramatically. Per Ovum, Infinera finished 2015 with a 29% share of the ICP DCI market, 8.5% higher than a year earlier and 10% higher than the nearest competitor.
How has Infinera been able to grow DCI share so dramatically among ICPs? (more…)