There have been a plethora of articles written on how this pandemic has transformed the way people go about their daily lives. And if there is one thing which everyone agrees is that the role of the Service Provider’s telecommunications network has never been more critical than it has been since the turn of the decade. The need for connecting more devices to the network, the insatiable demand for bandwidth, and the criticality of network reliability have created more expectations and also newer revenue opportunities for Service Providers. This requires Service Provider to re-look at their current network and transform them to provide a reliable and consistent user experience. The access and aggregation network of the service providers are at the cusp of this transformation and are challenged by increased capacity, low latency, ultra-reliability requirements driven by the transition from 1G to 10/25/100G. At Cisco, we have been relentlessly working on transforming the economics of moving the bits to build and run the infrastructure, in a secure and simplified way.

NCS 540 portfolio helps the customer in their transformation journey, with a myriad range of products meeting different capacity and interface requirements all the way ranging from 1G to 100G. As of writing this content in 2021, Cisco has sold over 100,000 devices in a short period of time. To recap the benefits of the NCS540 product family which has seen product launches in each of the years 2018/2019/2020/2021 :

  • Hardened and ruggedized with transformed economics to move the bits
  • Large number of interface port options from 100Mbps to 100G
  • Stringent Timing and latency capabilities
  • Secure, Reliable, and Carrier-Grade Operating System (IOS-XR)
  • Application-aware network with Segment Routing
  • Simplified Automation capability with Telemetry/Netconf Yang.

We are now accelerating the success of NCS 540, by introducing 400G to the access network with NCS 540 Large Density Router

Currently, there is a paradigm shift happening, with the convergence of IP and optical layer, which helps reducing complexity, allows operators to maximize the current fiber capacity, and offer more CAPEX and OPEX savings. The new architecture allows us to put the onus back on the router which helps in simplifying the management of the network. The density and form factor of optics have greatly reduced over time and with the evolution of digital coherent solution, a 400G optics can now directly reside in a router with zero density trade-off. So why does 400G be an option only for Core Networks even though we are seeing the router capacity increasing multifold at the access layer? Why not extend the benefit of the technology innovation all the way to access networks? Our new NCS 540 Large Density router has been designed keeping these innovations in mind.

Cisco has recently published a detailed whitepaper on the Economic Benefits of using Converged 400G IP Transport. With the launch of the NCS 540 Large Density router, we are extending the capability to scale to 400G.

So, what is so unique about our Large Density Router? Built on merchant silicon ASIC, the large density router is now able to extend the 400G coherent technology all the way to the access network. The NCS 540 large density aligns with Cisco Routed Optical Networking Architecture, which relies on a single control plane based on IP/MPLS in a converged hop-to-hop IP and optical network. It is not just about 400G, the large density router also supports SFP56, which offers backward compatibility with SFP28/SFP+/SFP, using the same PAM4 technology used in 400G. All these technological innovations are offered in a 1RU temperature hardened form factor, and 299mm in depth, making it suitable for deployment as a cell-site router, pre-aggregation, or an aggregation router. The platform also offers tighter time and phase synchronization and high-accuracy clocking along with GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) capabilities needed for 5G networks.

Powered with Cisco IOS XR software, the NCS 540 Large Density router offers customers an end-to-end SDN-based solution that will enable a programmable network coupled with Cisco’s automation platform that utilizes real-time network telemetry for advanced traffic engineering and control. As operators are looking to upgrade their network for 5G and Broadband deployments, why not future proof it so that you can scale well beyond today’s capacity, performance requirement and offer lower TCO. NCS 540 Large Density router will help in this transition offering better simplification and operational efficiencies.

To know more about NCS 540 Large Density Routers, click here:
Cisco Network Convergence System 540 Series
Converged 5G xHaul Transport Whitepaper
5G Transport Technical Case Study
Sprint Strengthens Its IP Mobile Network for 5G with Cisco
Indosat Brings Converged SDN Transport Network to Indonesia


Prakash Daga

Director, Product Management

Global Service Provider