South Africa: SEACOM and Infinera Announce Successeful Trial of 1732 km Long Cable Network

SEACOM and Infinera Corp, a leading US-based digital optical networking equipment supplier, announced that they had achieved a global first by successfully trialling five 100 Gigabit per second (100 Gb/s) channels of coherent optical transmission over a distance of 1732 kilometres.

The 500Gb/s trial was run over and looped back across SEACOM’s newly built 930 kilometre 1732 kilometres Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) fibre route which links the SEACOM Mtunzini cable landing station in KwaZulu Natal to the Teraco datacentre in Johannesburg.

The live demonstration, news of which has generated huge excitement in the industry, was witnessed by members of the scientific, research and development community at Teraco’s datacentre in Johannesburg. The trial used Infinera’s 500 Gb/s Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs), each which integrates five 100 Gb/s coherent channels onto a single chip. The PICs were used for both transmitting and receiving the five 100 Gb/s signals during the trial, the first time the PICs have been used to send and provide real time coherent processing for all 500Gb/s simultaneously on a production network. The trial also demonstrated Infinera’s FlexCoherent functionality by switching between QPSK and BPSK modulation.

Infinera plans to deliver the 500Gb/s PICs as part of a system which integrates 5 Terabit per second (Tb/s) OTN switching and 100Gb/s coherent optical transmission in early 2012. Enabling seamless upgrades from existing 10Gb/s networks without having to upgrade the underlying fibre infrastructure, this technology provides SEACOM’s land-based network in South Africa with a total capacity of over 8 Tb/s per fibre, which is an effective 10 fold increase on its current capacity. This is in line and in support of SEACOM’s plans to expand the marine portion of the cable to over 4.8 Tb/s.

SEACOM CEO Brian Herlihy said “This event is a landmark achievement and a global first. It also signals the international science research and development community that global projects such as the Square Kilometre Array are well within Africa’s reach.

“The trial demonstrates SEACOM’s commitment to increase the pace at which African networks are deploying cutting-edge telecommunications infrastructure technology to support Africa’s rise as a primary scientific and business destination.”

Fibre optic transmission technologies have been developing considerably to satisfy demand for large-capacity digital transmission in public telecommunication networks worldwide. At the consumer level, the 500Gb/s PIC technology enables the download of 2,400 high-definition Blu-RayTM movie files in 60 seconds, or supports the streaming of 320,000 simultaneous high definition video channels over a single fibre pair.

At the network level, 100G systems based on PIC technology will have important implications for the economics of future networks. Infinera’s 500G PICs incorporate more than 600 optical functions on a pair of indium phosphide chips enabling cost effective 100Gb/s coherent transmission as well as integrated OTN switching to deliver the Digital Optical Network. These industry leading capabilities provide an effective means for network operators to scale network capacity while lowering operational costs, increasing reliability and providing for superior network economics.

With Internet traffic growing at exponential rates, driven by video, cloud computing, and mobility, the 500G PIC technology is designed to support the required growth in network capacity, while reducing the per-bit cost, space, and power consumption,” said Infinera CEO Tom Fallon.“These attributes are in-line with SEACOM’s vision to providing world-class infrastructure as African traffic continues to increase at record speeds.

Source: SEACOM, August 2, 2011;

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