Optus connects Cairns to Perth with 100G from Alcatel-Lucent

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Optus, an Australian service provider and a subsidiary of Singapore-based Singtel, has completed an upgrade to its inter-capital fibre network from Cairns to Perth – increasing overall capacity by a factor of ten to 100Gb/s per wavelength.

The upgrade, which was carried out in collaboration with Alcatel-Lucent, began in 2014 with the connection of Perth and Sydney. Since then, links have been established between Sydney to Brisbane, and Cairns in Far North Queensland. The total network covers more than 8,000km, including one of the longest individual terrestrial data links in the world – connecting Adelaide to Perth over a distance of more than 2,000km.

Rob Parcell, managing director, Optus wholesale, satellite and small business, said: “Optus is committed to building reliable network capacity for retail, government and enterprise customers based on the world’s best long-haul transmission technology. Investment in this type of network capability means we can reliably scale the delivery of high-speed, low-latency services over a resilient high-capacity network interconnecting Cairns to Perth for business and government and other carriers through our wholesale channel.”

These distances, which are typically more associated with submarine networks, posed significant challenges in the network deployment. Typically optical signals travelling over very long distances must be regenerated at intermediate points, which adds considerable cost to the network. 

However, this upgrade is based on Alcatel-Lucent’s 1830 Photonic Service Switch and Photonic Service Engine (PSE)-based coherent technology with soft-decision forward error correction (SD-FEC). This was a key technology choice for the long distance terrestrial network as it can be used to extend the reach of 100G signals to 3,000km (1,800 miles) or more without need for regeneration.

Parcell said the 100G capability was already being rolled out into Optus’ extensive metropolitan networks. As the Australian arm of Singtel, Optus provides a broad range of communications services including mobile, telephony, business network services, internet and satellite services and subscription television.

Parcell was keen to stress that the upgrade was designed not only to increase total capacity but also to provide an agile and flexible foundation for Optus’ optical transport network. He said: “There is exponential demand for high-speed connectivity, driven by growth in cloud computing, data centres and subsea cable upgrades. We’re looking to meet this demand while at the same time opening up new markets which allows us to remain competitive.”

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