From the Ether

SAN MATEO (05/01/2000) - Nayel Shafei called last week to announce that his Enkido startup is the first company ever to provide 768 service. This is pretty amazing, and takes some explaining. But that's why they keep me around, in case you're wondering.

You may recall Shafei from when he was chief technology officer at Qwest Communications International Inc. (

Now he is the founder of Enkido (, with 29 people across the Hudson from Manhattan.

Shafei says Enkido's 768 service is now available in Manhattan, where the company owns 3,500 route miles of optical fiber and is already within 200 feet of anywhere. Enkido's first 768 customer is Deutsche Telecom.

Now, if you deal in binary powers, you recognize 768 as two to the ninth (512) plus two to the eighth (256). But this has zip to do with Enkido.

If you deal in IP, you recognize 768 as the RFC (Request for Comment) that Jon Postel wrote in 1980 defining UDP (User Datagram Protocol).

Enkido's service will carry UDP/IP, but the 768s are a coincidence.

The real name of Enkido's service is OC768, where OC stands for Optical Carrier.

So you might guess Enkido is providing Internet access at 768Mbps. Logical, but wrong again.

Enkido's OC768 service is connecting Deutsche Telecom locations in Manhattan with fibers operating at 40,000,000,000 bits per second (40Gbps).

Don't be confused by telephone terminology.

To clarify, T0 or DS0 is 56Kbps or 64Kbps. T1 is 1.5Mbps and T3 is 45Mbps.

OC1 is 52Mbps, OC3 155Mbps, OC12 622Mbps, OC48 2.5Gbps, OC192 10Gbps, and OC768 is 40Gbps.

If you think you'd like to correct me on some subtle aspect of these numbers, forget it, thanks.

Enkido doesn't just run fibers into your place at 40Gbps.

Depending on requirements, they'll install an optical multiplexor with a mix of services at 40Gbps, 10Gbps, 2.5Gbps, 622Mbps, 155Mbps, 45Mbps, and Ethernet bridging at 10Mbps, 100Mbps, 1Gbps, and 10Gbps.

Well, what's all this bandwidth for?

Shafei's vision is high-quality real-time multimedia. Enkido is offering streaming video from 2Mbps to 1.5Gbps, store and forward, on demand, and archive.

Current customers include Deutsche Telecom, NBC, Disney, Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, NASA, and Nippon TV.

Shafei says that one uncompressed HDTV (high-definition television) channel requires 1.5Gbps, which is more than AT&T, MCI WorldCom, and Sprint carry coast-to-coast, combined.

Of course, Enkido has plans beyond Manhattan.

The company has purchased over 20,000 route miles of dark fiber and is busy lighting them up.

Next, they will offer services up and down the Northeast Corridor.

It's funny how Shafei talks about Qwest and Level 3 in the same dismissive way that those companies talk about AT&T, MCI WorldCom, and Sprint.

He calls them all narrowband dinosaurs. Enkido services will be much faster and cheaper than those of the aforementioned other companies, and so the dinosaurs will go extinct.

Enkido's 40Gbps service is on one lambda, one wavelength, and one optical channel of a DWDM (dense wave division multiplexed) fiber.

Such channels have been demonstrated running over 400 kilometers and combined on a single fiber to carry up to 6.4Tbps.

New DWDM systems are now in development to run at 100Gbps per lambda, with 100 lambdas, and therefore at 10,000,000,000,000 bits per second (10Tbps) per fiber.

Dial-up telephone modems at 56Kbps are running about one hundred millionth of these speeds.

Which means that if every home in America had a modem, and if those modems were used continuously, and if their traffic were combined, it could all be carried on just one fiber.

But of course, once we get the telephone monopolies and their screwy terminology out of the way, as Shafei plans, then 56Kbps won't be nearly enough.

Technology pundit Bob Metcalfe's column archive is at Send e-mail to him at

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