Nortel and Southern Cross achieve 40G at 8,000 km on submarine cable

AUGUST 13, 2009 -- Nortel demonstrates 4x the bandwidth capacity without replacing or upgrading submarine cable or undersea repeaters on the existing infrastructure.

AUGUST 13, 2009 -- Southern Cross Cables and Nortel report successfully trialing 40-Gbps (40G) optical technology across an ultralong-distance submarine cable to prove that available bandwidth can be quadrupled without the need for costly reengineering of the undersea network. The organizations say this trial paves the way for a more cost-effective means for upgrading submarine networks around the world, which will help add network capacity needed to support growing demand for high-speed international Internet traffic without the need to lay new cable systems.

The Southern Cross network provides the major link for Internet traffic from Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji to the United States, as well as linking Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. In 2008, Southern Cross upgraded its terrestrial optical network across the U.S. West Coast with Nortel's 40G technology, giving its customers the means to serve bandwidth-intensive applications like high-definition video at a lower cost than has been possible until now.

Following the successful deployment of its land-based network, Southern Cross wanted to test the performance of Nortel's 40G submarine system over two of its most demanding routes. The first trial was conducted over a 4,200-km submarine segment between California and Hawaii. The second trial was conducted over Southern Cross's longest route, 8,000 km between Auckland, New Zealand and Hawaii. On both the trials Nortel equipment was added to both ends of the third-party submarine cable, with Nortel able to demonstrate the ability to provide more than 4x the bandwidth capacity without replacing or upgrading the submarine cable or undersea repeaters.

"Nortel's 40G technology provides the region's major broadband providers like Southern Cross the means to supply their customers with the network scalability they need well into the future," says Anthony McLachlan, vice president, Carrier Networks, Nortel Asia. "Put simply, this means a better service for both domestic and commercial users, and it enables the creation of additional revenue streams for providers by fast tracking their ability to sell additional bandwidth. With this milestone, Nortel reinforces its position as a lead contender in the resurgent submarine terminal market."

Nortel's trial with Southern Cross is based on the OME 6500, an optical convergence platform that supports transponding, TDM,and Ethernet switching on a single device, designed to enable a smooth migration to a reliable and scalable Ethernet infrastructure while maintaining minimal infrastructure costs. The OME 6500 features Nortel's coherent 40G Adaptive Optical Engine, which offers advanced digital signal processing that supports fiber spans up to 9,000 km without regeneration equipment. The platform has been deployed in more than 200 networks globally, including with Verizon Business across Europe and Asia.

Nortel says the trial further demonstrates the company's ability to work with existing cables and amplifiers from other vendors, providing cost-effective bandwidth expansion for terrestrial and submarine network operators, regardless of existing infrastructure. The equipment delivers 4x the capacity of today's 10G networks at a fraction of the cost of laying new cables.

For networks up to 450 km, Nortel has teamed with MPB Communications to enable carriers to upgrade their networks to 40G speeds without the need to deploy optical signal amplifiers (or repeaters) along the sea floor. Unrepeatered submarine equipment is built without undersea amplification, which effectively eliminates the cost of repeaters and electrical power. Extending the reach and capacity of unrepeatered technologies lowers capex and opex for network operators, claims Nortel. Using amplification equipment from MPB Communications paired with Nortel's 40G Adaptive Optical Engine, service providers can now deploy these unrepeatered undersea links at a fraction of the cost of traditional submarine networks that use powered underwater equipment.

"Typically, submarine fiber cable is already in place carrying 2.5- or 10-Gbps channels," says Jane Bachynski, president, MPB Communications. "By creating the ability to upgrade the capacity of these cables to 10 Gbps and 40 Gbps, we provide a great value proposition that leverages customers' initial investment."

In instances where a submarine link is required for longer distances, the 40G equipment can be used with underwater repeaters. Since 2008, Nortel's existing 40G coherent system with dual-polarization quadrature phase-shift keying (DP-QPSK) modulation has been deployed over underwater distances of 4,000 km. Ultralong-distance connections of 9,000 km are now possible through the company's recent development of a 40G ultralong-haul system that employs coherent dual-polarization binary phase-shift keying (DP-BPSK) technology that is believed to more than double the distance that 40G traffic can travel.

With 49 wins to date for its 40G equipment, Nortel has been leading the industry in 40G shipments for the past three quarters, including a 41% percent share in 1Q09 based on the Dell'Oro Group's findings. In Asia, Nortel has deployed networks with service providers in Japan, Korea, India, Indonesia, Singapore, and New Zealand. Nortel is developing 100G technologies, with eight successful 100G field trials already announced and availability of its 100G technology planned for later this year.

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