CES 2018: Terabit Fiber - Closer Than We Think

By

One of the biggest challenges for 5G and last mile 10 Gig deployments is not raw data speeds, but middle mile and core networks.  The wireless industry is talking up tens of gigabits for 5G, but what feeds the cell sites and neighborhoods? Currently, top speeds for core networks are between 200 Gbps and 400 Gbps, depending on the carrier and day of the week.  CableLabs says it has a cost-effective solution to transmit up to Tbps (Terabits per section) to 4 Tbps in the near-term over a single strand of optical fiber using off-the-shelf electronics, with the potential to go up to 50 Tbps.

CableLabs President and CEO Phil McKinney, conducting interviews at CES 2018, says the path forward to boost fiber capacity is by borrowing techniques from long-haul networks and getting rid of unnecessary overhead to increase speed.  Coherent optics utilizes the ability to transmit multiple bits of information using light, including amplitude and phase modulation, instead of a simple binary on-off approach.  Adding QPSK and QAM, plus polarization means you can move a lot more data onto a single strand of fiber.

The cable community has been steadily running out of fiber strands and bandwidth, seeing fiber bundles being slowly tapped out for such things as dedicated business services and private networks. Adding in a plan for full duplex DOCSIS 3.1 10 Gbps service for residential subscribers only adds to a need for more capacity.

Coherent optics have been in use for long-haul undersea networks for over 30 years, but it has been expensive, requiring lots of error correction and repeaters to correct for distances of thousands of kilometers.  Local metro networks are 30 kilometers or less, so there's no need for repeaters or a lot of overhead to ensure signal.

Last year, CableLabs demonstrated the ability to deliver 256 Gbps over 80 kilometers on a single wavelength with 16 QAM "using electronics bought on eBay," said McKinney.  By multiplexing eight wavelengths, speeds of 2048 Gbps -- 2 Tbps -- were achieved. By tweaking up encoding and modulation, 4 Tbps should be reachable in the near term while speeds of up to 50 Tbps are possible.  This means existing fiber networks can be used to deliver faster speeds by effectively rebalancing capacity on strands rather than having to pull more fiber.

McKinney says CableLabs is working to establish open standards for coherent optics, which should provide lower costs and interoperability for equipment.  And since the coherent optics work isn't embedded into any specific cable technology, it can just as easily be adopted by any fiber-to-the-whatever operator to boost metro and last-mile delivery speeds as well. Will wireless and traditional phone companies be able to swallow their pride for a significant speed and fiber efficiency increase?  Given the rush to deploy 5G, coherent optics using the CableLabs specs or something similar is likely to show up soon.




Edited by Mandi Nowitz

Contributing Editor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

IKIN Brings Hands-on Holographic Content Development Experience to Developers at ITEXPO

By: Erik Linask    6/10/2021

IKIN is giving developers a chance to learn first-hand how to create 3D holographic content at IKIN University at ITEXPO.

Read More

IKIN University, RYZ SDK Open Door to 3D World

By: Maurice Nagle    6/9/2021

Recently IKIN CMO Michael D'Arminio and EVP, Marketing Cody Oakland dished on how IKIN is deploying imagination - no, seriously. The IKIN RYZ SDK empo…

Read More

How to build a website in 6 steps!

By: Special Guest    6/9/2021

Creating a new website is not as easy as it seems. Because it involves designing and coding a website. If you don't know how to do things like that, i…

Read More

Setting Up a Home Office: The Dos and Don'ts

By: Special Guest    6/8/2021

The ongoing pandemic has forced many Americans to readjust in many ways, including shifting to remote work. Working from a home office no longer raise…

Read More

6 Ways Technology is Changing the Investing Landscape

By: Special Guest    6/8/2021

COVID-19 has changed the world of investing for good. In fact, 25% of investors are now considered "retail", which represents an all-time high. Tec…

Read More