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100 Gigabit and packet optical loom large in the metro

"One hundred Gig metro has become critical in terms of new [operator] wins"

Michael Adams, Ciena


Ciena says operator interest in 100 Gigabit for the metro has been growing significantly.

"One hundred Gig metro has become critical in terms of new [operator] wins," says Michael Adams, vice president of product and technical marketing at Ciena. "Another request is integrated packet switching and OTN (Optical Transport Network) switching to fill those 100 Gig pipes."

The operator CenturyLink announced recently it had selected Ciena's 6500 packet optical transport platform for its network spanning 50 metropolitan regions.

The win is viewed by Ciena as significant given CenturyLink is the third largest telecommunications company in the US and has a global network. "We have already deployed Singapore, London and Hong Kong, and a few select US metropolitans and we are rolling that out across the country," says Adams.

Ciena says CenturyLink wants to offer 1, 10 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) services. "In terms of the RFP (request for proposal) process with CenturyLink for next generation metro, the 100 Gigabit wavelength service was key and an important part of the [vendor] selection process."

The vendor offers different line cards based on its WaveLogic 3 coherent chipset depending on a metro or long haul network's specifications. "We firmly believe that 100 Gig coherent in the metro is going to be the way the market moves," says Adams.

At the recent OFC/NFOEC show, Ciena demonstrated WaveLogic 3 based production cards moving between several modulation formats, from binary phase-shift keying (BPSK) to quadrature PSK (QPSK) to 16-QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation).

Ciena showed a 16-QAM-based 400 Gig circuit using two, 200 Gig carriers. "With a flexible grid ROADM, the two [carriers] are pushed together into a spectral grid much less than 100GHz [wide]," says Adams.

The WaveLogic 3 features a transmit digital signal processor (DSP) as well as the receive DSP. "The transmit DSP is key to be able to move the frequencies to much less than 100GHz of spectrum in order to get greater than 20 Terabits [capacity] per fibre," says Adams. "With 88 wavelengths at 100 Gig that is 8.8 Terabits, and with 16-QAM that doubles to 17.6Tbps; we expect at least a [further] 20 percent uplift with the transmit DSP and gridless."  

Adams says the company will soon detail the reach performance of its 400 Gig technology using 16-QAM.

It is still early in the market regarding operator demand for 400 Gig transmission. "2013 is the year for 100 Gig but customers always want to know that your platform can deliver the next thing," says Adams. "In the metro regional distances, we believe we can get a 50 percent improvement in economics using 16-QAM." That is because WaveLogic 3 can transmit 100GbE or 10x10GbE in a 50GHz channel, or double that - 2x100GbE or 20x10GbE - using 16-QAM modulation.

The system vendor is also one of AT&T's domain programme suppliers. Ciena will not expand on the partnership beyond saying there is close collaboration between the two. "We give them a lot of insight on roadmaps and on technology; they have a lot of opportunity to say where they would like their partner to be investing," says Adams.

Ciena came top in terms of innovation and leadership in a recent Heavy Reading survey of over 100 operators regarding metro packet-optical. Ciena was rated first, followed by Cisco Systems, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei. "Our solid packet switching [on the 6500] is why CenturyLink chose us," says Adams.

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