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The unprecedented growth of IP traffic is leading Internet service providers and network operators worldwide to investigate architectural alternatives for cost effective, reliable, scalable, and flexible multiterabit IP backbones. In this paper, several overlay, service, and transport layer networking architectures, which employ IP, MPLS, SONET/SDH, and DWDM technologies, are proposed and analyzed. Multiple parameters, such as network capacity, cost, restoration strategy, reconfigurability, and accommodation of preemptable traffic, are considered for the architectural comparison. Detailed network design and economic analysis are provided for the different alternatives considering a typical nationwide U.S. backbone with projected IP traffic in approximately three years. Several sensitivity analysis results are also shown, to evaluate the effect of cost changes in some of the critical technological factors in these architectures, such as 10 Gb/s optics cost or IP router cost. The results show the value of transport layer networking architectures for multiterabit IP backbones, and how, when compared to service layer architectures, they provide additional desirable features such as wavelength reconfigurability and restoration scalability.