AT&T to trial 400 Gigabit Ethernet in 2017

AT&T (NYSE:T) says it will conduct multi-phase trials of 400 Gigabit Ethernet (400GbE) transmission technology early in 2017 using optical transport technology from Coriant and Ciena. The service provider says such transmission rates would primarily benefit business customers.

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AT&T (NYSE:T) says it will conduct multi-phase trials of 400 Gigabit Ethernet (400GbE) transmission technology early in 2017 using optical transport technology from Coriant and Ciena. The service provider says such transmission rates would primarily benefit business customers.

The service provider says it is interested in putting the high-speed optical transmission technology to the test in light of rapid increases in bandwidth demand. AT&T estimates data traffic on its network grew more than 150,000% between 2007 and 2015.

The trials will comprise three phases:

  1. The first phase will focus on the use of 400GbE in a long-distance scenario. Coriant will supply the technology necessary to transmit a 400GbE service on AT&T's network between New York to Washington. The trial will aim to demonstrate that the service provider's infrastructure is ready for 400GbE. Approached for comment, Coriant sources declined to describe the technology they'll provide for the trial. However, the company's hiT 7300 Multi-Haul Transport Platform is known to have such capabilities. Should software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities also be involved, Coriant may also supply its Transcend SDN Transport Controller.
  2. In the second phase, AT&T will turn its attention to its metro fiber-optic networks. Ciena will supply the transmission technology that AT&T will use in its Open ROADM metro network. The OpenROADM initiative seeks to promote the development of open standards for ROADMs with advanced software control features. Andre Fuetsch, AT&T CTO and president of AT&T Labs, posted a blog this past March 22 on the Open ROADM project that showed a picture of Ciena-supplied Open ROADM systems alongside transmission technology from Fujitsu Network Communications and Nokia (see photo above).
  3. The third and final phase will demonstrate a 400GbE open router platform. The platform, which AT&T asserts is an industry first, will feature disaggregated design that uses merchant silicon and open source software.

"Although there have been efforts focused on 400 Gigabit Ethernet viability and industry standards over the past couple of years, we are excited to be the first to implement a pilot," said Rick Hubbard, senior vice president, AT&T Network Product Management, in a press statement. "400GbE has the potential to transform how our largest retail and wholesale customers manage their networks today."

The fact that AT&T is interested in 400-Gbps transmission in the form of 400GbE echoes the first major deployment of 100 Gbps optical transport technology. Verizon deployed coherent 100-Gbps transmission technology to support the transmission of 100GbE traffic between router sites in Europe (see "Verizon to deploy 100 Gigabit Ethernet on Paris-to-Frankfurt route").

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