GregSmith Bio Photo3By Greg Smith, Service Provider Marketing Manager, Cisco

OK, so the title of this article isn’t totally accurate. Cisco’s 100G DWDM solution won’t work over barbed wire, or Cat-5 cable, or cotton string, but it will work on over 95% of the existing fiber in the ground, including systems that were designed to operate at 10 Gbps. Why is this important? Because 100G services aren’t just for large cities and international carriers. Even rural locations are starting to see Internet growth rates fast enough to justify the leap to 100G.

For example, to prepare for anticipated growth of IP network traffic, two independent communications providers in Wyoming recently completed a successful trial of a 100 Gbps optical connection. Silver Star Communications, based in Thayne WY, and Advanced Communications Technology (ACT), from Sheridan WY, completed this trial across 420 miles of existing fiber, over multiple networks in conjunction with Cisco in early April 2013.

While some trials and deployments have been completed elsewhere, many have resided on metropolitan infrastructures conducted by large communications providers. In contrast this project was completed over the rural landscape of Wyoming over multiple networks from independent communications providers.

“A trial of this nature further proves that we’ve been making the right investments in our network – building a scalable, future-forward network designed to handle the future bandwidth needs of Wyoming and Idaho,” said Ron McCue, president and chief operations officer for Silver Star.


One of the most significant outcomes of such a trial is the demonstration that by leveraging next generation transport technologies, independent networks can use existing facilities to create a common network while avoiding dramatic expenses. For the residents and businesses of Wyoming, knowing that existing networks in the state are capable of delivering next generation IP and data services is another positive outcome. Understanding that the network infrastructure in the state is capable of this level of connectivity gives Wyoming yet another important point of differentiation for economic development. An obvious attraction and table stake for high-tech businesses considering relocation, start-up locations, remote staffing, or satellite operations would be a robust network that will meet their needs, not to mention the benefits to existing Wyoming industry and residences.

Aaron Sopko, general manager of ACT believes that “this type of ground-breaking pilot project is essential to our long term goal of making the technology sector the 4th largest economic sector in Wyoming over the next decade.”

This particular 100G trial proves that not only can existing networks join together to provide such connectivity, but also while operating on network equipment from a variety of manufacturers. Silver Star and ACT both used third party DWDM equipment. However, since Cisco designed its standards-based 100G coherent optical DWDM solution to operate over non-Cisco DWDM infrastructures, the signals could traverse the existing fiber without regeneration or the need to re-engineer the network. This ensures that 100G services can be deployed quickly as needed and without affecting existing customers.

To learn more about Cisco’s 100G DWDM solution and the technology behind it, please join us for a Cisco Knowledge Network event on Tuesday May 7th, “CMOS Photonics: Cisco Optical Innovations Enabling 100G and Beyond” at 0800 PDT / 1100 EDT / 1500 UTC. Registration details for this event can be found here.