Light Reading

Is 100G Transport Closing the Window on 40G?

Light Reading

The continued rapid rise in demand for bandwidth – both for ultra-high-speed services and for data-heavy business and consumer applications – is leading network owners to look at their fiber infrastructure from edge to core and assess how it will cope in the future. Some optical transport networks are coming under pressure already; some routes are full even when using 10-Gbit/s channels, and operators face the choice between laying new fiber or squeezing more capacity out of existing plant by moving to higher-speed transport systems that can reuse existing assets. Unsurprisingly, the second course of action is preferred.

Most optical transport system vendors reckon there will be significant commercial deployments of 100G systems by 2011-2012; there have been significant long-haul trials in Australia, Spain, the US, and elsewhere, as well as short-range commercial deployments of 100G systems. They also say that many telcos would deploy 100G systems now if they were available. This appears to define the window of opportunity for 40G systems, which have only begun to be deployed in any significant numbers over the last year or so, even though the technology was demonstrated in 2000.

However, as is usually the case, things are not as simple as they seem. While standardization efforts for long-haul 100G systems appear to be successful, this is not the case in short-range applications. Vendors argue, "Why standardize on technologies optimized for long haul when what's actually required for high-speed applications is just the cheapest way of supporting the service?" This argument seems to be reflected in the choices of technology offered by vendors. Furthermore, except for very high-speed services, using 100G wavelengths is only effective if traffic can be efficiently groomed to utilize the full capacity of the wavelength. Some vendors argue that closer packing of lower-capacity channels will be more efficient for many operators for some time.

So 40G systems cannot be written off: It is likely that operators will need a mix of channel capacities in their optical transport networks in order to most effectively use the fiber infrastructure as bandwidth demands continue to rise. Vendors with platforms able to support multiple channel capacities would appear to be well placed.

Our new Heavy Reading Insider report, "Optical Transport: 40G/100G Interest Shifts Into Overdrive," focuses on 40G and 100G systems from the major vendors supplying telecom operators with solutions for optical transport. The report examines the market dynamics that are driving demand for high-speed transport and explores the technologies that provide compatibility with installed fiber infrastructure in different parts of the network. It also sets out the likely timetables for deployment of 40G and 100G systems, analyzes the impact of emerging standards on market development, and evaluates moves to integrate IP and optical networks more closely. The report profiles 13 leading vendors of 40G and 100G optical transport systems, comparing their approaches from technical and market-focus perspectives.

— Danny Dicks, Analyst, Heavy Reading Insider

Optical Transport: 40G/100G Interest Shifts Into Overdrive, a 24-page report, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Heavy Reading Insider, priced at $1,595. This report is available for $900. To subscribe, please visit:

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