Cisco’s new, high-capacity CSR-3 router comes with impressive credentials: It can handle 322 Terabits per second, enough to download the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress in just over one second.

It also can help wireless carriers prep their core networks for the massive onslaught on data traffic sure to come over the next several years. As the traffic goes from towers to base stations, it is eventually routed through the core of the network – which is where Cisco’s router comes in.  

“The core of the network has to be ready to anticipate capacity that is downstream,” says Cisco Marketing Manager Pravin Mahajan. 

Operators don’t like fiddling with their core network; it’s akin to open heart surgery. Still, they have to make sure their networks can handle future loads of traffic. Mahajan estimates the CSR-3, which has three times more capacity than its predecessor, is powerful enough to handle operators’ capacity needs for years to come.

AT&T has already given the CSR-3 a run for its money with a successful trial of a 100-gigabit-per-second Internet feed. The router will form the backbone of AT&T’s core network as it moves to ramp up its capacity with HSPA 7.2 and LTE. 

“The AT&T IP backbone network today carries nearly 19 petabytes of traffic on an average business day, supporting our wireless, wired and enterprise customers’ ever-growing demand for wireless and wired broadband applications,” said AT&T Chief Technology Officer John Donovan in a statement. “Research and development milestones like our 100-Gigabit trials help to ensure that the AT&T network is always ready to meet our customers’ needs.”

Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala says forward-looking infrastructure equipment like Cisco’s new router is essential to the future of the wired and wireless Internet. “Without them pushing the envelope like this, all the things we want to do as consumers like watching streaming video online… none of that’s possible if Cisco doesn’t continue to evolve the core network equipment,” he says. “[The CSR-3] is going to enable us to do things years from now that we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.”