Many industry experts are calling data the ‘new oil’ and just as oil once created amazing economic opportunities, it also produced many challenges in drilling for and distributing the oil. The same is true today with data, except the challenge is making the entire pipeline faster, while also ensuring that networks become easier and more cost-effective to deploy.
The optical fibres that crisscross our globe are often described as having ‘infinite capacity’, but that’s not strictly correct. While optical fibres do represent an extremely efficient communications channel – a single optical fibre can carry more information than all of the wireless spectrum combined – their capacity is not truly unlimited.
Since products based on coherent super-channels hit the market in mid-2012, this technology has transformed the way that service providers deploy long-haul capacity. A super-channel is an evolution in DWDM technology in which multiple optical carriers, implemented on a single line card, are seen as a single unit of capacity, and are brought into service in one operational cycle. Super-channels take the spectral efficiency that is delivered by a coherent transponder and make it operationally scalable beyond 100Gb/s.
As internet traffic grows year on year, service providers have to deliver more capacity at cheaper rates. Simply putting more fibre into the ground is a very expensive solution to the problem in most cases, so network providers are under pressure to come up with innovative solutions that will increase the capacity of fibre that has already been deployed within the network infrastructure.
CableLabs is spearheading efforts to develop a proposal that uses coherent optics to dramatically boost the capacity of hybrid fibre coaxial networks, reports Andy Extance
Systems vendors are using intelligent software to squeeze more performance from optical networks. Pauline Rigby reports on developments at OFC 2017