Light Reading

LR Community Loves Itself Some 400G

Dan O'Shea

Question the near-term need for 400G, if you like, or its long-term value in a world where 1 Tbit/s seems doable. But the Light Reading community has its 400G fans, and they came out to support the technology in our recent poll on the need for 400G. (See Do We Need 400G?)

As of Friday, March 21, more than 32% of the more than 650 LR community members who took the poll sided with the opinion that 400G will be needed soon to deal with capacity issues. Yet there is still some indication that 400G's future is up for debate. Nearly 28% of respondents said 1 Tbit/s would be the better choice as the industry looks beyond its current deployed base of 100G.

Also, almost 24% said that, though 400G might be the correct next step for some networks, it will not be widely deployed. Meanwhile, if there is anything the community agrees on in this poll, it's that 100G, which has seen such wide deployment in the last year or so, is simply not enough to soothe ongoing capacity concerns.

There certainly has been a lot of activity around 400G already. Vendors, standards groups, and even some network operators have been busy since last year developing 400G products, trials, and business cases. (See Huawei Pressures Its 400G Router Rivals, OIF Plans to Define 400G, Ciena Taking 400G Link to SC13, and SaskTel Trials 400G With Alcatel-Lucent.)

Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin recently questioned the need for "beyond 100G" technologies in the near term. He argued that many network operators completed a 10x bandwidth upgrade not long ago from 10G to 100G, and that the rate of Internet traffic growth has been slowing in recent years. (See Going Beyond 100G? Not So Fast….)

Perhaps some in the LR community are just trying to get Sterling to eat his words, but even though 400G was favored in this poll, the voting was close enough all around that we would have to agree this hot-button issue is far from being completely decided.

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
3/23/2014 | 9:48:06 PM
Re: Standards lacking
Thanks for playing, Sterling. Yes, I kind of let the 1 Terabit poll response fly by there without much comment. We should take a closer look at that flexible line rate standard in an upcoming story.
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/23/2014 | 4:14:40 PM
Re: Standards lacking
Traffic growth may be slowing, but the rise of smartphones and ultra cheap hardware could change that. Traditional market penetration has been primarily complete, now the movement will be in global penetration in areas not serviced by regular providers. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/22/2014 | 11:20:35 PM
Re: Standards lacking
Usually comes down to when and how much.  40G had a few things going against it, didn't have the cost points and some problems with the initial technology, and 100G came fast behind it.  For 1000 vs. 400 G then it will come down to when a reliable standard can be made for transmission over SM-28 fiber, and how much more it will be in comparison to 100G, those who drive the top end transmission market are currently bandwidth hungry, so I think there won't be a problem with demand in the Tier 1 and large data transfer community.  Granted that's a smaller community than 100G, but the same thing happened when we went from 10 to 40/100.
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/22/2014 | 10:12:10 AM
Re: Standards lacking
Re the building-block approach: Doesn't that imply that developers should focus on terabit as the long-term next logical step and use 100G building blocks in the interim? I wonder how the poll results would look with that as a fifth option.
User Rank: Lightning
3/21/2014 | 5:20:46 PM
Re: Standards lacking
Okay Dan, you got me to bite!

This was an interesting poll Q and that's a lot of responses! Of course, there are different ways to read the data. Personally, I was surprised at the large % of responses saying to skip 400G and move to 1 Terabit - A year ago it seemed that debate was over, but now it seems like that's not so. 

There is a flexible line standard that is in the works - as Maarten as detailed on these boards - and that might make the debate irrelevant. Operators would be able to create line side pipes of whatever size they need based on building blocks of 100G. 

I also agree with the statement that without a standard in place, operators aren't going to do a whole lot. It's far less risky to wait.

User Rank: Blogger
3/21/2014 | 5:08:36 PM
Re: Standards lacking
True, and we are looking at the next couple of years for various standards to be sorted out. I guess, unlike in SDN, we are still living in an optical world predicated on standards.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/21/2014 | 5:00:26 PM
Standards lacking
I discussed that study with some folks at the recent OFC conference, who pointed out that standards are not yet set for 400G. Service providers who deploy 400G technology now do so at the risk of getting locked in to proprietary technology. 
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