Verizon upgrades network for a 100 gig world

Long-haul networks aren’t the only pipes getting 100 gigabit upgrades these days. On Tuesday Verizon (s vz) said it is upgrading the metro networks in at least seven U.S. cities to meet the demand for broadband at the edge. Verizon’s announcement follows the launch of a 100-gigabit middle-mile network in Washington, D.C., last week, and it shows how we are closing in on the terabit age.

Verizon is putting fat Cisco CRS-3 routers in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle. The new gear, which will be deployed in the first half of 2012, can move up to 322 terabits per second — enough to download the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress in one second. These mammoth machines will be part of Verizon’s upgrade to its core FiOS network and will help deliver more bandwidth to homes, for data centers in the respective cities, to cell towers for mobile backhaul and wherever else Verizon needs it. It will also play a role in Verizon’s network evolution strategy to IPv6, the new Internet addressing system.

This represents an opportunity for players such as Ciena, (s cien) which is providing equipment for the D.C. network as well as for ADTRAN (s adtn) and private companies such as Zayo and Allied Fiber. Unlike the telecommunications boom of the late ’90s, the investment here seems to be matching up with real demand. Of course, I doubt we would have made it this far without all of that investment and dark fiber to kick things off in terms of building bandwidth-heavy applications.