The need for speed
Service providers around the world are moving quickly to accelerate their networks — making the jump from transport speeds of 10G and 40G to barrier breaking 100 gigabits per second. Getting there is critical given the unrelenting rise in demand for high-speed, high-quality, always-on connectivity.
The proliferation of mobile devices, applications and interactive services supporting mobile data, streaming video and social media is also expanding exponentially. The list of bandwidth drivers is familiar to service providers striving to keep pace with demand that’s doubling every 2 to 3 years. While the world’s appetite for bandwidth seems insatiable, network operators are keenly aware that the scalability of their current networks has its limits.
The cost-capacity crunch
Not only is there an overall challenge associated with making sure today’s networks are fast enough to handle the current and anticipated traffic demands, but the rate of growth has put providers in a cost-capacity crunch. The investments they’re making in network upgrades and new builds have a high price tag, and to-date, the revenues returned have not been proportionate.
Unfortunately, this cost-capacity crunch will only become more pronounced. Service providers will feel the pain as cloud-based services increase bandwidth demand and at the same time impose requirements for new content delivery and storage models.
Service providers need to ensure their networks — which cover a wide range of distances and topologies — can scale to meet the bandwidth demand. To monetize their networks they will have to adopt the most efficient, flexible and cost-effective means of transporting traffic. And to further cut costs, they will also need to reduce power consumption and overall network equipment footprint.
Move over 100G
The arrival of 100G promises a huge relief for capacity-strapped service providers. But recognizing that bandwidth demand will continue to climb, service providers need to:
- Enhance the speed, performance and efficiency of 100G solutions
- Create an evolutionary stepping-stone strategy to make the next major leap forward in network capacity — to 400G.
Alcatel-Lucent has been working to address these requirements. The result of that work is the 400G Photonic Service Engine (400G PSE) chip. This solution has the ability to improve the performance of current 100G networks and it lays the foundation for service providers to upgrade to 400G. The first commercially available 400G chip is fully compatible with 100G networks. It maximizes capacity while optimizing space and power — extending 100G reach and performance.
The 400G PSE builds on Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs innovation and real-world experience with 100G coherent solutions. It was developed for the Alcatel-Lucent 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS) platform, and can be used in a variety of ways depending on the service provider’s requirements.
Planning is key
When planning 100G deployments, service providers must weigh a number of complex elements including:
- Fiber type
- Distance between sites
- Placement of amplifiers
- Electrical regenerators
- Add-drop sites
Balancing these elements often leads to compromises that include:
- Reduced line rates or wavelength capacity on some spans
- Installing additional regeneration sites
Both of these diminish overall performance and undercut the value of the provider’s technology investment.
When configured for 100G transport, the 400G PSE can optimize performance, extending reach by greater than 50% — from 2000 to more than 3000 kilometers — without the need for costly electrical regeneration. And it can reduce power consumption and footprint by greater than 30%.
The 400G PSE allows service providers to realize the full wavelength capacity of fiber of any quality. This reduces the need to compromise on wavelengths or speed. In 400G applications, the PSE increases traffic capacity per fiber by greater than 2.6 times and reduces power consumption per gigabit by 33%.
With the enhanced 100G performance enabled by the PSE, the addressable market in both ultra-long-haul and highly meshed regional applications is broadened. In addition, network capacity is increased and cost is significantly lowered.
The path forward
Current traffic demands can be met by 100G. However, the lesson of the last 5 years is that the next big thing can run its course quickly. Service providers — and the technology developers who support them — need to be continually looking even farther ahead.
At the same time, given the cost of evolving the network, providers cannot afford to overhaul their infrastructures every few years to keep pace with traffic growth. Solutions have to be scalable, and they have to be backwards-compatible.
The 400G PSE provides a smooth evolutionary path that allows service providers to leverage their existing investment and migrate to higher rates at their convenience. 100G routes employing this technology can deliver improved performance over virtually any fiber infrastructure or topology. Bandwidth can be scaled at any pace, even while power consumption and footprint are minimized.
The 400G PSE quadruples the speed of 100G networks and multiplies capacity by 2.6 — all while helping service providers lay the foundation for the evolutionary leap to 400G. By dramatically increasing capacity and speed, the PSE enhances today’s networks, while preparing for tomorrow’s advances.
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-  Telegeography: International Bandwidth Deployments – 2002-2016 ↩