Advances in data centre-related infrastructure are largely driven by increased network demand for higher bandwidth, faster service and ubiquitous access. Because of these trends, very high fibre-count cables (more than 3,000 optical fibres) become essential for connecting hyperscale data centres within a campus over distances of less than 10km. Another application space that is currently a topic of active interest in the industry is metro data centre interconnect (DCI).
Much attention has been directed recently towards the need of national network operators to enhance the capacity of their long-haul networks in order to deliver data-heavy services, such as streaming high-definition video services to a large broadband subscriber base. A significant part of overcoming bottlenecks is the deployment of 100 Gb/s, and increasingly 200 Gb/s, transceivers employing coherent detection technology. However, it must not be overlooked that not every network operator is in exactly the same business.
Global IP traffic has increased fivefold since 2010 and there is no reason to think that this growth will stop anytime soon. Attempts to keep pace with such capacity demands have seen a dramatic increase in optical cable installations and installed optical fibre counts, causing unprecedented levels of congestion in carrier duct infrastructure. Soon, the large traditional cables installed in these ducts will reach capacity exhaust but, due to the high cost of civil works, many operators will be reluctant to invest in new duct and cable infrastructure.
Network owners have much to consider when designing access networks. The network has to be able to support high-data rates and to maximise coverage area from the central office. Ideally, it should take advantage of low cost installation techniques and hardware miniaturisation. Once deployed, the network may have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years so upgrades to higher data rates must be supported. Finally, but not least, backwards compatibility is essential to ensure that new installations can be connected to equipment that has been already installed.
Cost and compatibility can make a compelling case for pushing 100Gb/s bandwidth over a single optical channel, both as individual links and supporting 400Gb/s Ethernet, finds Andy Extance
Robin Mersh takes a look at how the industry is creating next-generation optical access fit for 5G
Technological advances to aid the increasing demand for bandwidth, on the path towards the terabit network, should lead to optical signals that are flexible and adaptive, like water, argues Dr Maxim Kuschnerov and Dr Yin Wang