Nortel partners testing 40Gbps-plus technology on existing infrastructure

At at time when carriers are just swallowing 10 Gigabit per second technology, Nortel Networks says will soon let them significantly up their network speeds without ripping apart their fibre infrastructure.

The company is now testing with select providers what it calls the industry’s first optical technology that can deliver both 40G and 100G network capacity over existing 10G optical networks. The solution will let carriers deal with the anticipated demand for bandwidth hogs like IPTV, Internet video, HD programming and mobile video phones.

Nortel said its 40G/100G Adaptive Optical Engine enables both 40G and 100G transmission with the same ease and simplicity of today’s 10G networks.

Would-be feature film directors working from home should be patient, however. While the device allowing up to 40Gpbs will be ready for sale next month, the 100Gpbs technology won’t be available for sale to carriers until late next year.

On Thursday morning Nortel also announced that Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. will test the engine this week at the 71st meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force in that city.

Comcast said the trial will attempt to run a 100G wavelength in a parallel system over its 40G national backbone network.

The current state-of-the-art networking speed is 10 Gigabits per second, Nortel said, which can support the bandwidth of 1000 HDTV channels simultaneously. By increasing that capacity to 40G, carriers can transmit four times the traffic over the same link and 10 times the traffic when 100G infrastructure is ready.

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For carriers, the good news is that the solution is built on plug-in cards with the 40G/100G Adaptive Optical Engine that fit into Nortel’s Optical Multiservice Edge 6500 switch, as well as utilizing its Common Photonic Layer products.

“You don’t have to forklift any of the optical layer components, any of the amplifiers, or any of the multiplexing infrastructure already deployed,” said Philippe Rochon, product manager for the line.

Telecommunications analyst Iain Grant of the SeaBoard Group said that if the upgrade is as easy and cost-efficient as Nortel says it’s “good news for carriers,” who are losing sleep over the possibility that heavy bandwidth applications will soon cause giant leaps in network traffic but only small leaps in revenue.

“So finding a relatively easy path to upgrade your capacity is bliss,” he said.

Nortel wouldn’t say how much carriers will be charged for the card.

Two of its customers – Danish operator TDC and Britain’s Neos Networks – are among the carriers testing the solution. TDC is using it to speed European network traffic across the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany.

“The 40G capability preserves our investment in our fibre plant that enables us to meet increasing bandwidth needs easily and also helps us meet the needs of our customers,” Morten Bangsgaard, vice-president of TDC Fixnet Nordic, said in a news release.

“Nortel’s solution will allow us to leverage adaptive optical technologies to save both capital and operational expenses and to easily expand our services across Europe.”

Neos is initially deploying a 10G live network, which provides the foundation of the 40G network, and will be testing the Nortel 40G network elements next month. “Our Liquid Bandwidth product enables us to deliver dynamic Ethernet connectivity to suit their day-to-day business requirements,” said Adrian Pike, Neos’ managing director.

The company hopes the Nortel platform will allow it to deliver cost-effective point-to-point Gigabit Ethernet 2.5G and 10G services today and will enables it to scale to 40G services cost-effectively while providing a path to 100G.

In simple terms, Rochon said Nortel built the solution by leveraging some of its wireless modulation and digital signal processing technologies. Technically, it’s using Dual Polarization Quadrature Phase Shift Keying to map symbols into a pulse of light, which is squeezed that into a custom CMOS on the card that can extract the signals being sent over the fibre.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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