2020 put network infrastructures to the test.

Work from home and streaming video pushed network traffic loads into the stratosphere. More and more endpoints connected to the network, as enterprises pushed hard to digitize their service offerings, and the rate of cyber-security threats, which continue to present a significant business risk, skyrocketed.

While communication service providers juggle these short-term challenges, they are also engaged in a long-term network transformation to speed up service delivery through a simplified network blueprint, curb operational expenses with modernized network operations, and most importantly, support new services like 5G, IoT, AR/VR, and connected cars.

To help our customers in this journey, we recently announced major updates to our Converged SDN Transport architecture, including our Routed Optical Networking solution, a new cloud native BNG solution, and many more product updates.

Included in the updates, is a cornerstone of the Cisco Converged SDN Transport architecture, the Cisco ASR 9000 Series. Who would have imagined that 13 years after its first release, the Cisco 9000 series is still evolving to meet the 2021+ requirements of our customers’ networks? Today, we are taking the platform to the next level with new systems and line cards.

New Systems and Line Cards

ASR 9903

Launched in late 2020, the compact, high performing ASR 9903 router delivers up to 3.6 Tbps network bandwidth. The baseline version comes with a set of fixed interfaces providing either 16x100GbE ports or 15x100GbE + 10x10GbE or 14x100GbE + 20x10GbE.

A fully redundant, multi-purpose platform, the ASR 9903 router can support a wide range of customer’s use-cases including business provider edge, metro aggregation, cloud edge, Internet peering, data center interconnect (DCI), and others.
The ASR 9903 also has a modular slot that can be populated with two types of port expansion cards:

  • The A9903-20HG-PEC is a 2Tbps expansion card with 5 multi-rate ports, starting at 100GbE up to 400GbE, and 20x100GbE ports. The 5 ports, when migrated to 400GbE through a license, support QSFP-DD optics.
  • The A9903-8HG-PEC is a 800Gbps expansion card with 32×10/25GbE ports and 16x10GbE ports.

ASR 9902

The compact edge ASR 9902 router (2RU) delivers up to 800Gbps of network bandwidth. It supports two redundant route processors (RP), integrated switch fabrics, 2 AC or DC power supply modules, and 3 fans in redundant configuration. The router consists of a fixed board, with 2 integrated QSFP-DD based 100GE ports, 6 integrated QSFP28-based 100GE ports, 16 integrated SFP28-based 25GE/10GE dual-rate ports, plus 24 integrated SFP+-based LAN/WAN (OTN) ports. For security, all ports support MACSec.

With the rich feature-set of ASR 9000 product family baked in, the ASR 9902 is the perfect fit for a variety of edge deployments like BNG, mobile edge, business VPN, and cloud peering, among others.

Line Cards

With the latest silicon on-board, the flexible ASR 9000 systems can be custom fit based on customer need, supporting high-density 400GbE connectivity as well as lower speed connectivity.

For the most demanding networks, we are introducing a 4Tb/s line card (A99-10X400GE-X-TR/SE) that delivers up to 10 400GbE ports with MACSec support on all ports.

For customers that need flexibility and have lower bandwidth requirements, we are introducing a line card (A9K-4HG-FLEX-TR/SE) that delivers either 4 100GbE ports or 16 25GbE ports or even 40 10GbE ports.

Routed Optical Networking

As communication service providers endeavor to simplify their network architecture, they are exploring disruptive ways to build networks with solutions like our new Routed Optical Networking solution. We know that investment protection is required by many customers to move forward and we have ensured that existing systems, like the ASR 9000, embrace the Routed Optical Networking technological improvements to “bridge” between old and new architectures. The ASR 9000 is an integral part of Cisco’s SDN transport architecture. With new line cards based on the 5th generation of custom silicon, the ASR 9000 supports 100G ZR and 400G ZR/OpenZR+ coherent optics – enabling new ways of designing IP and Optical networks, simplifying network management, and providing significant cost per bit savings.

Cloud Native BNG

With traditional BNG, the user plane and control plane are supported on the same device. For many years, this architecture met expectations, as the limited number of services per user and moderate bandwidth needs per user did not require optimization. However today, with the exponential growth in traffic, subscribers, and services, the traditional BNG architecture is showing its age.

A cloud native BNG (cnBNG) solution reinvents the game, leveraging separate user and control planes. Now, with the control plane in the cloud, communication service providers have simplified network operations and integration into IT systems. And with the user plane located closer to end-users, communication service providers can deliver a robust customer experience with low latency support for critical services.

The Cisco ASR 9000 is the first router with this new cloud native user plane deployment model. For existing ASR 9000 customers, it offers a strong investment protection as these systems can be used as user planes for the new cnBNG architecture.


The ASR 9000 is one of the most widely deployed platforms in the world because of its the high-performance hardware, and its advanced software features powered by Cisco IOS XR. These include:

  • Zero-touch provisioning for simple, secure, and cost-effective network operations
  • Industry-leading implementation of Segment Routing – MPLS and IPv6 – for advanced traffic engineering at mass scale
  • EVPN support for simple service delivery
  • Streaming telemetry for granular network visibility
  • Extensive support of data models and APIs for advanced programmability and ease of insertion into customers’ operations
  • Secure boot and signed RPMs for trustworthiness

Over the past 10 years and through continuous innovations, the ASR9000 has evolved to support multiple roles in the network. The recent investment in silicon, systems, and software ensure that the ASR 9000 is well poised to help communication service transform their infrastructure to support the Internet for the Future.

To learn more about the latest updates, visit the ASR 9000 webpage.



Vipul Deokar

Vice President, Engineering

Global Service Provider