Cisco unveils faster internet gear

Cisco Systems, the world's largest supplier of internet backbone equipment, is tripling the capacity of its gear, a move it is hyping as one that will change the internet forever.

Cisco Systems, the world's largest supplier of internet backbone equipment, is tripling the capacity of its gear, a move it is hyping as one that will change the internet forever.

The San Francisco-based company on Tuesday announced the availability of new equipment, the CRS-3 Carrier Routing System, that will allow telecommunications providers to boost the speed and traffic of the internet services they sell to consumers.

Cisco said the new equipment will serve as the basis of next-generation internet infrastructure and accommodate the huge growth in video transmission, as well as cater to as yet undiscovered online services.

"The Cisco CRS-3 is designed to transform the broadband communication and entertainment industry by accelerating the delivery of compelling new experiences for consumers, new revenue opportunities for service providers, and new ways to collaborate in the workplace," the company said in a news release.

Cisco said the new system triples the capacity of its previous gear and can accommodate up to 322 terabits of data per second. That's enough to transmit the entire printed collection of the U.S. Library of Congress in a second or allow every person in China to make a video call simultaneously, or stream every movie ever made in less than four minutes, the company said.

The system is now in field trials, Cisco said, while pricing for it starts at $90,000 US.

AT&T, one of the biggest internet providers in the United States, announced Tuesday it has recently conducted successful tests of the CRS-3.

Cisco's announcement comes as the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. equivalent of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, is set to unveil its broadband strategy to Congress. The FCC will soon table a plan on how to reverse the declining standing of the U.S. in international broadband rankings, a trend that is seen as hurting the country's ability to compete economically and innovate. The plan could involve new government involvement in broadband markets, which have been largely deregulated for the past decade.

Cisco has on a number of occasions filed submissions to regulators in the United States and Canada on behalf of large telecommunications companies in support of deregulation or keeping broadband markets free from regulation.

A recent report from Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society found that the U.S. decline in broadband standings was largely the result of deregulation and an over-reliance on competition between cable and phone companies. The study also found Canada has experienced a similar fate.

European and Asian countries, which have forced their internet providers to rent their networks to competitors at reasonable prices, have experienced faster and better internet services, the report said.

Cisco's move also comes on the heels of a recent announcement by Google, which will build test networks in several U.S. towns and cities. The search company will deploy new fibre infrastructure that will be up to 100 times faster than what internet subscribers in the United States and Canada can now get.

The move was seen as an effort by Google to encourage municipal, state and federal governments to get involved with upgrading broadband. It also inspired envy in municipalities around the world — city managers in Ireland last month said they intended to ask Google to build such a network in Dublin.

Google could not try such an initiative in Canada, however, because ownership restrictions prevent foreign companies from controlling telecommunications infrastructure.