Huawei claims it's unleashing vast bandwidth for 53 operators

We all know which one. The US market is closed to Huawei’s big iron and if the US gets its way the South Korean market may be closed to Huawei as well. That’s because the US government is worried that the Chinese secret service might build back doors into their routers and thus be able to spy or, at the very least, bring the network to its knees.

All you connoisseurs of irony will hardly need reminding that it’s the US that’s been caught red-handed doing similar things with its huge security service - the NSA - spying on its own and foreign citizens across the network. And the latest allegations are even worse - it seems US agencies have been planting malware on mobile phones to report back messages and conversations. Given that acitivity it’s probably little wonder that US security experts thought the Chinese must be up to the same sort of thing via Huawei.

And it’s no use pretending that the US concern was based on a ‘pure’ well-founded security issue. There was undoubtedly commercial politics in the mix as well as Huawei is targetting the strategically important core router market currently dominated by US firms Cisco and Juniper.

According to Huawei, its NE5000E router is the industry’s first 400G core router deployed on a large scale. Here’s a few numbers: it has a capacity of up to 2 Tbit/s per slot, 6.4 Tbit/s per chassis, and 32 Tbit/s per system. This means, claims Huawei, that the NE5000E can meet service requirements for the next decade.

In addition, according to the European Advanced Networking Test Center (EANTC), the overall power consumption of Huawei’s 400G platform is less than 1 W/G, meaning high energy efficiency and low power costs.

So both Cisco and Juniper appear to have been beaten to the punch by Huawei over latter’s 400 Gigabit capability since Cisco is apparently some months behind Huawei while Juniper has yet to announce its chip.

That decade timespan is important too. If we’re to believe the prognostications, within five to 10 years’ time carriers will be starting to deploy so called ‘white box’ servers and switches all over the network in support of network automation and virtualisation. But this will go only so far. According to the experts it will make little sense (for the foreseeable future at least) to try and oust core routers using commodity ‘white box’ hardware as the cost/performance simply won’t justify it.

That leaves the core router as the strategically important box with the healthy margins. And it leaves the less demanding switches fighting it out with the white box vendors for market share. So Huawei indeed appears to have got itself into a competitive position - at least outside the US.

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