The foundation of the NLR infrastructure is a dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM)-based national optical footprint using Cisco Systems' 15454 optical electronic systems, with a maximum capacity of 40 and 32 wavelengths per fiber pair respectively. Each wavelength can support transmission at 10 billion bits per second (10 Gbps). This optical system is deployed nationwide across roughly 15,000 route-miles of dark fiber that NLR has obtained through Level 3 Communications. Four NLR wavelengths have been implemented using 10 Gigabit Ethernet LAN PhY (physical layer), a technology and architecture that had previously been limited to metro-area networks. NLR can also support the SONET (Synchronous Optical NETwork) Technology employed in traditional telecommunications networks, if needed. The initial wavelengths provide:
Additional wavelengths are activated across individual segments of the infrastructure as needed. A more detailed description of NLR services and a guide for researchers interested in using NLR services are available. Nearly a dozen research projects are already using NLR services.