Nortel Boosts Carrier Networks to 40G bps

Breakthroughs let carriers stuff 40G bps' worth of data down existing 10G-bps pipes.

Nortel Networks on March 12 will advance the state of the art for high-performance optical networks with the launch of new 40G-bps technology.

Nortel is claiming a first with its Nortel 40/100G Adaptive Optics Engine because it can provide both 40G bps and 100G bps of network capacity. At the same time, the technology allows carriers to implement the 40G-bps technology without having to redesign their existing 10G-bps metro area and long-haul networks, according to company officials.

Although to date only a few thousand ports of 40G bps have been deployed, increasing bandwidth demand caused by the growth of video is driving carrier demands for greater throughput, according to Michael Howard, principal analyst at Infonetics Research.

"What 40 Gig is preparing for is the next level of bandwidth, and indeed the backbones are getting filled up on carrier networks, and it's all due to video. We think in 2010 there will be 4 billion mobile subscribers, many using video, and 400 million broadband subscribers also using video. And by 2010 there will be maybe 60 million IP TV subscribers," Howard said.

Few vendors have actually shipped optical networking gear capable of supporting 40G bps, although several vendors have talked about it. Siemens is one vendor that has shipped equipment, and Verizon and AT&T have deployed it.

Things are about to change, however, with Nortel's announcement that Neos Networks in the United Kingdom is in the process of rolling out a Metro Ethernet network based on the Nortel 40/100G Adaptive Optics Engine. At the same time, Danish carrier TDC is planning to deploy the Nortel 40/100G Adaptive Optics Engine to initially carry its European network traffic across the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany. Its 40G-bps service will be available later in 2008.

Although the market for such high-speed networks is in its infancy, Verizon Business, for example, is planning to deploy 100G bps across all its major U.S. routes in 2009.

"We think in the carrier networks on [WDM (wavelength division multiplexing) gear], between 5,000 and 10,000 ports will be deployed this year. That's less than 1 percent of all the ports deployed in carrier networks. So really the market is just beginning," Howard said.

Service providers are looking to meet the increasing demands placed on their networks by the growing use of video without having to redesign their networks. According to Scott McFeely, vice president of product line management for metro Ethernet business at Nortel, the new offering meets that requirement.

"We believe we can move the transmission from 10 Gig to 40 and 100 Gig without having to do a network redesign. And we believe [total cost of ownership] is reduced because we can do these network deployments without external compensation modules, less amplification, less [signal regeneration] and reduced power requirements. Our third value proposition is that it's a simple upgrade from an equipment perspective," McFeely said.

The new Adaptive Optics Engine runs on line cards for Nortel's Optical Multiservice Edge 6500 platform. The cards include a client card that support a 40G-bps client and another client card that supports multiple 10G-bps clients. Another line card provides 40G-bps wavelength transmission.

Infonetics' Howard said he believes Nortel's unique advantage is its ability to use existing 10 Gig interfaces but push 40G bps of data through the links. "That's what allows the carrier to keep their existing network intact," Howard said.

Nortel achieved that through a unique encoding scheme, called Dual Polarization Quadrature Phase Shift Keying with coherent detection, which allows 40G-bps transmission over existing 10G-bps networks. Nortel also used digital signal processing on the receiving end to read the sophisticated encoding scheme, and it used CMOS technology to eliminate compensation requirements for optical impairments that occur on high-speed networks, according to McFeely.

"So you can overlay this on existing networks and outperform 10 Gig," he said.