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Submarine cables get simpler, faster

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Submarine cables and other long distance data connections may now be simpler and cheaper to deploy and operate, thanks to a new set of products from Ciena.

Ciena is the heir to Nortel’s Optical Multi Service Edge 6500 products and has wrapped them up, with its own kit, into the new WaveeLogic 3 suite.

The headline act for the new kit is a reduced need for signal regeneration equipment in terrestrial cables. Regeneration is a necessary evil in long fibres because light attenuates and other noises and distortions creep into the signal. Most long fibres therefore use a powered box every 50 to 80 kilometres to regenerate the signal amplify it. The regeneration process sees a conversion from optical to electronic form, before another conversion to light for the hop to the next box down the line.

Ciena’s new kit uses a digital signal processor to clean a signal, removing the need for regeneration. That in turn means reduced power requirements.

The new arrangement also means less latency on long fibre cables, as each signal regeneration box needed time to perform its task. Long cables may now offer better carriage for collaborative applications.

Beneath the waves, fibres can now be uncompensated for chromatic dispersion which will further reduce the cost, complexity, and reach of next generation submarine cables. That's good news because laying cables is a tricky and expensive business. Ciena's new kit can also upgrade bandwidth of existing cables, if operators are willing to pop new boxen at either end.

That approach is already winning real-world customers, with the Australia Japan Cable (AJC) signing up for Ciena’s new 6500-class kit and cranking up its cables to 40Gbps. AJC CEO David Crofts says that means the company can “expeditiously augment AJC’s existing capacity plus support OTN services from day one also played a key role noting the continually increasing data volumes carried by AJC.”

Back on land, the upgraded product can also reach 400 Gbps in metropolitan or regional networks. ®

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