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Fatter fibres; faster data

High speed data transmission is a hot topic, but how will the industry enable the ‘fatter pipes’? By Roy Rubenstein.

Component and optical transponder makers alike want to know how significant the market for 40Gbit/s technology will be and whether its prospects will be curtailed due to operators’ interest for 100Gbit/s transmission. Meanwhile, vendors are pondering how they will implement 100Gbit/s transmission: should they use complex modulation schemes, complex asics and dsp to reduce the symbol rate to a level where existing optics can be used; or do they use a challenging optics only approach?
Last year saw significant deployment of 40Gbit/s dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) equipment. AT&T said that, by December 2007, it had deployed 80,000 wavelength kms at 40Gbit/s across its US network.
Yet operators are already eyeing 100Gbit/s transmission. In November 2007, US operator Verizon Business announced it had transmitted a 100Gbit/s light path alongside several 10Gbit/s wavelengths over more than 500km of fibre. Moreover, AT&T has said it will need 100Gbit/s transmission by the end of the decade to keep up with traffic growth, whilst Verizon says it would use 100Gbit/s technology now if it were cost effective.
But achieving long haul transmission – where the optical signal can be sent over distances as great as 1000km before it is regenerated – represents a considerable challenge.

Roy Rubenstein

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