JUNE 9, 2010 By Stephen Hardy -- Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) has become the second systems supplier to offer 100-Gbps capabilities based on dual-polarization quadrature phase-shift keying (DP-QPSK) with coherent detection. Support for 100-Gbps wavelengths is now available on the company’s 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS), with similar features on the near-term roadmap for Alcatel-Lucent’s 1625 LambdaXtreme and 1626 Light Manager. Furthermore, Alcatel-Lucent revealed that Softbank of Japan will use the 100G-enabled 1830 PSS in its backbone network.
The company also announced a 40-Gbps coherent capability based on DP-BPSK.
Nortel, before it was acquired by Ciena, was the first vendor to offer a commercial 100G system using DP-QPSK and coherent detection (see "Nortel unveils commercially available 100G optical system"). However, as Alcatel-Lucent Vice President, Marketing for Optical Alberto Valsecchi pointed out in a conversation with Lightwave this past Monday, that system combines a pair of 50-Gbps carriers to reach 100 Gbps. The new capability on the 1830 PSS therefore is the first commercially available 100G coherent DP-QPSK offering that uses a single carrier, he asserts. The approach also should be compatible with the 100G long-haul Implementation Agreements now under development within the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF), according to Valsecchi.
The technology supports 50-GHz spacing, which translates to 88 channels per fiber. The new capability will enable the 1830 PSS to support 500 Gbps per shelf and 1.5 Tbps per bay.
The 100G streams also will efficiently share fiber capacity with adjacent 10- and 40-Gbps wavelengths. The system will not require guard bands to run 100-Gbps wavelength alongside lower-speed traffic, Valsecchi said. Thus, channel capacity will be maintained.
Valsecchi indentified three main applications for the new capability on the 1830 PSS: capacity scaling, data center connectivity, and “converged backbone transformation and IP offload” -- basically, interconnection of core routers. He believes that capacity scaling will provide the greatest initial pull for the new feature, followed by data center connectivity. Core router interconnection probably won’t take off until 100-Gigabit Ethernet interfaces are widely deployed, he said.
In addition to Softbank and a previous demonstration of the technology with Telefonica, Valsecchi says that there are “tens” of carrier trials scheduled. The fact that Alcatel-Lucent has more than 40 customers for the 1830 PSS provides a significant base of potential 100G upgrade business, he pointed out.
The analyst community hailed the announcement, particularly the fact that Alcatel-Lucent can provide 100G using a single carrier. That approach likely will be up to 50% cheaper than Ciena’s because it will require only half the components to support one carrier versus two, says Andrew Schmitt, directing analyst, optical at Infonetics Research. However, he notes that Ciena has had more field time to wring the bugs out of its algorithms and electronics (the same basic technology is used for the OME 6500’s 40G capabilities, which have been available for several years) and the two-carrier approach might provide slightly better performance.
Meanwhile Eve Griliches, managing partner at ACG Research, believes the announcement provides Alcatel-Lucent with a leg up on its primary competitor. “We expect Huawei will provide their dual subcarrier approach at the end of this year,” she wrote in a note released today. “While Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei battle for market share in the arena of optics, Alcatel-Lucent has clearly jumped ahead by delivering a 100G commercially viable product before Huawei, albeit after Nortel.”
But the 100G race will have more than three horses. Infinera recently announced its own plans to use coherent technology. Schmitt says he also expects at least one Japanese vendor -- likely either NEC or Fujitsu -- to develop a similar approach to 100G. In this context, subsystem vendor Opnext demonstrated 100-Gbps coherent DP-QPSK technology at OFC/NFOEC in March of this year. As a spin out of Hitachi, that would seem to put Hitachi in line to offer something similar. However, Schmitt says he is unsure how tightly the two companies currently are bound.