Sprint Bets Big on Super-fast Broadband

On the Internet, you can never be too fast or carry too much data, which is why Sprint is crowing about its plan to convert its core network to deliver data at 40 Gbps using the 40 Gigabit Ethernet technologies. The carrier will use Cisco and Ciena gear to deliver 40 Gig E Gbps over its existing fiber network worldwide. To help put the speeds in context, a 40 Gig E backbone will be able to carry 3.2 terabits of data per second. That’s a lot of cloud services or HD video via iTunes, but Internet consumers are demanding it. And with the speed which new services, including video and 3G wireless, are growing, we need the speed.

Sprint has long been eager to experiment with new technologies, building out the first fiber network back in the 80s and 90s. In 1999 –well before convergence was all the rage — it launched a converged voice and data service built on a packet-based network dubbed “ION.” However, those experiments have not always translated directly into dollars. Sprint spent more than $2 billion on ION before killing it three years after its launch.

More recently, Sprint has bet on WiMAX, but its beleaguered Xohm network has been plagued by delays. Sprint has had to turn to rival Clearwire in order to bring the 4G service nationwide. So I applaud Sprint for investing in 40 GigE faster broadband and only hope it can find some return.

(We will update the story after talking to Cisco and Sprint.)