Viatel selects new ultra-pure fiber for Circe intracity rings in Europe

Aug. 1, 1999

Viatel has become the first telecommunications operator in Europe to select Lucent's AllWave Fiber, a new ultra-pure fiber that supports a fiber spectrum 50% larger than conventional singlemode fiber. AllWave Fiber has been designed for deployment in metropolitan networks.

Viatel will initially deploy AllWave Fiber in Paris, one of the six major European cities in Ring 1 of its Circe Pan-European Network. "AllWave Fiber affords us the opportunity to add important, new intracity connections to our fiber network, enabling us to meet the growing needs of our customer base throughout Western Europe," says Viatel's president and chief executive, Michael Mahoney.
Viatel will use both TrueWave and AllWave Fiber from Lucent in its network, which will be built in five phases. The final phase of the network should be operational by the middle of next year. (Source: Viatel)

Circe ranks as one of the largest all-fiber long-haul networks built by the emerging alternative European carriers--a list that includes GTS Carrier Services, KPNQwest, Cable & Wireless, MCI WorldCom, and Esprit. In spite of the different business models and deployment plans of its competitors, Viatel needs to move rapidly to find secure rights-of-way and high-performance fiber-optic connectivity between major European cities.

When early fiber-optic networks were first deployed extensively, a singlemode fiber with a single 1310-nm channel typically ran line speeds of 100 to 300 Mbits/sec. As a result, most of Europe's existing fiber plant is still just singlemode fiber. But as traffic demands from Internet and other capacity-hungry applications exploded in the last 10 years, the established operators experienced fiber exhaust on the older network links with low fiber capacity. This fiber-exhaustion issue was further darkened by the dawn of dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) on busy long-distance networks. Lucent's new AllWave Fiber was designed to reduce attenuation between the 1310- and 1550-nm transmission windows, thus offering an exceptionally broad bandwidth window.

According to Chris Lewis, Yankee Group (Boston), "AllWave is particularly suitable for the short- to medium-haul metro and cable-TV needs. These networks need the increased bandwidth because of the nature of the traffic mix of analog and digital. Finally, Lucent's design has maintained low dispersion at 1310 nm, thus protecting legacy investment in standard fiber."

Lucent considers Circe a showcase to demonstrate its latest data-networking systems, software, and NetCare services. Backed by a consortium of industry-leading supplier-partners (e.g., Nortel Networks and Lucent), Viatel is building one of the largest and most advanced fiber-optic networks on the Old Continent. Viatel initiated its commercial service on the first ring of its five-ring, 40-plus-city fiber network in early 1999.

Viatel's Circe Pan-European Network is more than just an 8700-km, self-healing, fiber-optic infrastructure linking the business centers of Western Europe. Supported on a 24-hour x 7-day basis through dual international network operation centers located in London and New York, this fully bidirectional Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) network offers fully protected point-to-point services at 2 Mbits/sec (STM-1) to 620 Mbits/sec (STM-4). With upgrade capacity to carry over 9.3 Tbits/sec of both circuit- and packet-switched traffic, Circe has created a path to meet future, as well as present, connectivity needs.

Circe is configured so each point-to-point circuit is protected deploying SDH bidirectional line-switched rings (BLSR) providing less than 50-msec automatic restoration. Each point-to-point circuit is physically diverse and restored on an automatic protection ring. This approach is uniquely different from the traditional "linear mesh" topologies that offer lower network resiliency--99.995% versus 99.9%. The state-of-the-art, high-capacity Circe network is capable of supporting advanced data services, including frame relay, Internet protocol (IP) and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Internet access, e-commerce, multimedia applications, and voice telephony. Lucent Cable Systems' chief operating officer, Denys Gounot, says, "Viatel is the first carrier to implement ITU G655 TrueWave RS fiber [32?10-Gbit/sec clear channel capacity DWDM] for its long-haul network and now becomes the first provider to implement AllWave Fiber in Europe."

Circe is configured as five interlocking SDH fiber rings linking over 40 cities in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. This infrastructure also includes 312 route-km of submarine cable, cross-linking four landing points. The network will be deployed in five phases:

  • Phase One, a ring linking London, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels, Antwerp, Paris, and Amiens, and Phase One A, linking Charleroi, Gent, Hasselt, Kortrijk, Liege, Mons, Namur, and Tournai in Belgium, are fully operational and carrying Viatel's voice and data traffic as well as that of other carriers.
  • Phase Two--the initial segments of which were to have been completed in June 1999--will add the following cities to the network: Dusseldorf, Mannheim, and Frankfurt in Germany; and Nancy and Strasbourg in France.
  • Phase Three--which will link Koln, Essen, Dortmund, Bremen, Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Nurnberg, Munich, and Stuttgart and, together with Phase Two, creates a German national network--will be operational in early 2000. This backbone network is a joint venture with Carrier1 and Level 3 Communications in Germany, where construction costs are particularly high.
  • Phase Four/Phase Five--which will expand the Network's reach throughout France and Switzerland via two additional fiber rings--will be operational during mid-year 2000.

Edward Harroff writes on telecommunications issues from Bellevue, Switzerland.