Manufacturers Demonstrate 1 Terabit Optical Speeds and Beyond

By Joan Engebretson February 21, 2013

There’s a lot going on with ultra-high-speed optical transmission lately. Several manufacturers – including Huawei, Infinera, and NEC, as well as Bell Labs -- have demonstrated some really high speeds of a terabit or more per second.

This wave of optical networking one-upmanship has been made possible by the industry’s move toward a flexible grid that gives manufacturers the ability to tweak the spacing in between wavelengths, thereby enabling manufacturers to squeeze more wavelengths onto a fiber. Manufacturers also are combining multiple wavelengths, known in this context as sub-carriers, into a single logical connection, known as a carrier.


Image courtesy of Shutterstock

If you combine a lot of subcarriers, use a flexible grid and reduce the distance covered or distance between regeneration points on the network, you can get some impressive data rates.

Here’s a summary of what’s been demonstrated in the last couple of months:

Manufacturer

Speed

Subcarriers

Distance (km)

Amplification/Regeneration

Comments

Bell Labs

1 Tbps

8

5600

In-line amplifiers at terrestrial amplifier spacing- no repeaters

Lab results

Bell Labs

1 Tbps

4

2400

See above

Lab results

Bell Labs

1 Tbps

2

3200

See above

Lab results

Huawei

2 Tbps

20

3325

No regeneration

Live network trial with Vodafone

Infinera

10 Tbps

Ten 1 Tbps superchannels (not a single 10 Tbps superchannel)

Not disclosed

Not disclosed

“Technology showcase” with Telefonica

NEC Corp.

1 Tbps

10

5400

60 km amplifier spacing

Lab experiment

NEC Corp.

1 Tbps

10

7200

See above

Lab experiment

Considering all the variables that can come into play, it would appear that resolving standards for the next optical speed tier will be a complex process. Complicating matters is the fact that the industry has not yet agreed on standards for 400 Gbps equipment – although the lack of standards hasn’t prevented at least one carrier from deploying 400 G equipment (as we noted last week in our coverage of France Telecom/ Orange’s 400 Gbps deployment).

When standards bodies undertake the task of determining standards for optical transmission at speeds of 1 Tbps or greater, I would expect that service providers would like the ability to minimize regeneration requirements and the number of wavelengths used when shorter distances are involved. Accordingly I would expect to see the industry adopt several different 1 Tbps standards for different requirements -- particularly different distance requirements. Ditto for 2 Tbps or 10 Tbps standards.

What I wouldn’t expect to see is service providers waiting for standards before deploying equipment supporting 1 Tbps or higher speeds. Service providers often don’t mix optical transport equipment from multiple manufacturers in their networks, so a lack of vendor interoperability – at least for initial deployments -- may not be a deal breaker.

NEC said 1Tbps equipment could be ready as soon as 2015 if the company decides to undertake such a project. Huawei said commercial availability of 2 Tbps equipment would be “after 2015.”




Edited by Rich Steeves

Contributing Editor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

The FCC's Big Net Neutrality Day

By: Peter Bernstein    2/27/2015

I am going to admit to being surprised by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's (FCCs) Open Internet decision. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's new n…

Read More

FCC Vote Endorses Title II Approach to Net Neutrality

By: Paula Bernier    2/26/2015

After months of debate and the collection of comments from four million Americans, the Federal Communications Commission today voted on - and approved…

Read More

Frontier Customers Get DVR-Driven Free and Web TV

By: Bob Wallace    2/26/2015

In what could be a match made in cord cutter heaven, Frontier Communications said it will bundle the TiVo Roamio OTA DVR with its high-speed data serv…

Read More

Secure Shell Key Management in Light of OpenSSL Vulnerabilities: Part 1

By: TMCnet Special Guest    2/25/2015

Ever since computers started connecting to each other, people have been thinking about how to keep information on them secure. As the Internet evolved…

Read More

Title II Proposal Brings Certainty - and Questions

By: TMCnet Special Guest    2/24/2015

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the broadband industry in the United States due to Title II reclassification…

Read More