800G Realized

Sept. 24, 2020
800G will enable network providers to scale their entire optical infrastructure, achieving record-breaking capacity per wavelength for all network paths.

Network operators and service and content providers all experience an unrelenting pressure to boost traffic carrying capacity over existing fiber assets in the most efficient way possible. Readily deployable additional capacity is critical for them to keep up with the demands of today’s digital lifestyles. And, now more than ever, when network-based working, learning, and socializing are the norm, service providers need practical optical innovations that are not only lab curiosities or impossible to deploy hero experiments, but commercially viable solutions ready for actual live deployments.

Network connectivity is now our lifeline. It is no longer just for work and business. It allows us to interact with friends and family, enjoy the latest entertainment, and receive essential services like remote healthcare.

Thankfully 800G is available and being actively deployed today. It is powered by the industry’s latest state-of-the-art programmable coherent optical technology that operates at high baud (95G symbols/second) and is capable of processing and transporting more capacity than has been previously possible over a single optical channel or wavelength – up to 800 billion bits per second. For example, compared to 100G/200G networks, it can result in the delivery of four times more capacity per wavelength and 75% better spectral efficiency depending on the specific application.

To help paint a picture of what that means, consider that an 800-Gbps link is enough to transport 25 HD movies in one second or the latest virtual reality game in a quarter of a second. When you think about how this level of data throughput could support the delivery of other data-intensive content, like immersive AR and VR, it’s easy to see why network providers are racing to show leadership in the use of this technology.

Sophisticated solutions for content-hungry consumers

800G will enable network providers to scale their entire optical infrastructure, achieving record-breaking capacity per wavelength for all network paths. Another important attribute of the most recent advances in 800G-based coherent optical technology is its ability to adapt and offer multiple line rates to extend wavelengths over the longest distance or the most challenging link. Of course, it also means less hardware to deploy and manage, less energy consumption, and reduced cost per bit.

2020 has demonstrated not only the hunger for engaging virtual experiences but also our reliance on being able to efficiently access and consume them. All of this activity puts additional strain on today’s networks, whether it’s streaming films, taking part in e-sports tournaments or testing out the use of robots in remote surgery. These applications require vast amounts of data to be transported using the most sophisticated photonics available. Prior to 2020, providers were already working to meet the demands on their networks; in the “new normal” these challenges will be even more acute.

World firsts and record-breakers

The first to initiate a live deployment was submarine cable operator Southern Cross, which turned on its live 800G production network, carrying traffic between two large, global data centers on the U.S. West Coast. With 800G technology, Southern Cross was able to upgrade its infrastructure and achieve an increase of more than 80 times the original design of the network. Deutsche Telekom achieved the accolade of the first in Europe to deliver an 800G network.

Verizon also used the technology to validate multi-vendor 400 Gigabit Ethernet interoperability between transport and router operators while quadrupling the typical capacity carried on a wavelength. And Comcast achieved record-breaking performance via the world’s first long-distance 600-Gbps pilot deployment to deliver higher capacity and faster speeds to provide the best user experience for its customers.

And, the list goes on.

It’s just the beginning of 800G

Consistent among all network providers is the need for a more responsive, automated, and self-optimizing infrastructure. Technologies that support 800G, alongside a flexible photonic layer and open application programmable interfaces (APIs), play a starring role in enabling this new programmable infrastructure.

By cost-effectively increasing capacity, from the core to the edge, network providers now have the power and operational capability to support the next generation of applications. 5G mobile broadband, immersive gaming, factory floor automation, edge compute, massive machine-to-machine communications, and ultra-reliable, low-latency applications, will all rely on this new adaptive 800G infrastructure. This fast, adaptive network will be the fuel for the next wave of digital services.

We are only just beginning the 800G journey so expect to see exciting achievements in the months ahead.

Steve Alexander is senior vice president and chief technology officer at Ciena.

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