Nortel's Korean Deployment: How Big?

Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) this week announced a contract win with KT Corp., formerly Korea Telecom. Terms of the deal were undisclosed, though Nortel says it's the first long-haul agreement the vendor's struck with the carrier (see Nortel Builds Korean DWDM).

It's certainly not the first job Nortel's done for KT. Nortel's been supplying gear to the carrier, Korea's largest, for years. In November 2000, the vendor announced $105 million in financing from KT for a DSL rollout involving Shasta gear. In June 2001, it boasted the sale of OPTera Metro 5200 platforms to KT to reduce access bottlenecks in Seoul. In December 2001, it announced the sale of the OPTera Connect DX switch for a new 10-Gbit/s optical backbone.

In the latest deal, Nortel is supplying OPTera Long Haul 1600 systems for DWDM submarine links with Raman amplification in place of more costly repeaters. KT has installed the links between a couple of Korea's mainland cities and Cheju Island, which comprises 1,825 square kilometers off the country's southwest coast. Nortel won't specify the application, but one of the point-to-point connections spans 351 km and the other, 513 km.

With so little information, it's tough to determine the real value of this agreement. But one thing is clear: For telecom vendors, Korea is like Hollywood's Oscars. It's important to be there. Indeed, only not being there seems notable.

Nortel's got a ton of competition at KT alone. Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) announced last month that it's set to deliver WaveStar OLS 1.6T systems to KT for Internet links in Seoul and two other cities by the end of August (see Lucent Powers KT Network ). In 2002, it won a KT job for 25 WaveStar TDM 10G systems to fuel long-distance services in four provinces.

A slew of other vendors, including Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and Riverstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RSTNE), also count KT as a customer. Indeed, at one point in 2002, Riverstone made 10 percent of its revenues from Korean contracts, many of them from KT (see Riverstone Wins in Korea -- Again). How much this reliance subsequently helped the vendor isn't clear, however (see Riverstone Restates, Stock Falls, Riverstone Faces Nasdaq Delisting, and Riverstone Readies Restatement).

It's easy to see KT's attraction. In a survey last year, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) found that Korea led the world in broadband access deployments (see Broadband: Will It Bust a Move? ). KT is the largest carrier in Korea, privatized in May 2002. It is a key player in the Asia/Pacific region, offering opportunities in areas where others are holding back. As Nortel says in a prepared statement to Light Reading: "While the Optical Long Haul market is still a tough space, there are opportunities out there in which we are seeing success, specifically in the APAC region."

As proven in the case of Riverstone, the Asia/Pac market in general is unpredictable, with pricing and product selection peculiarities that can stymie the largest vendors. But not being there is worse. At least a presence on the peninsula guarantees that companies like Nortel will be ready to take the attractive opportunities as they crop up.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

zettabit 12/4/2012 | 11:31:45 PM
re: Nortel's Korean Deployment: How Big? I cannot correlate two items in this press release.

The story describes the use of "OPTera Long Haul 1600 systems for DWDM submarine links with Raman amplification in place of more costly repeaters", which I read to mean a "festoon" application using LH1600, as Nortel does not have any UNDERsea WDM systems.

However the story also describes "point-to-point connections spans 351 km and the other, 513 km".

Assuming VERY low loss pure silica fiber for these links (as is typical), that would still mean optical losses of 60-65dB and 90-95dB for these spans. VERY high for an UNREPEATERED system.

I could believe that the 60-65dB might just be doable by Nortel, although people like NEC and Siemens typically have systems with better reach specs than Nortel for festoon type applications, but there is NO WAY that 90-95dB is doable.

Does anybody have insight on this specific application in terms of number of wavelengths being supported, and what tricks Nortel may be pulling out of a hat to make this happen?
zettabit 12/4/2012 | 11:31:44 PM
re: Nortel's Korean Deployment: How Big? Kumite,

Using the technologies you mentionned (Raman, high-gain FEC, high-gain EDFA amps), as far as I know no system in the world can do 95dB truly unrepeatered.

That is why the 513km number seems amazing.

Kumite 12/4/2012 | 11:31:44 PM
re: Nortel's Korean Deployment: How Big? I always thought that in festoon applications the signal was always repeated when it hit land (as in 3R). So, using some kind of FEC and high gain RAMAN pumps at each end it should be possible, although difficult. One added advantage is that with no amps in the middle, just glass, it cuts down on the distortion of the signal. After 513km you have to go back to electrical in order to recover the signal. Any attempt to amplify a signal after that distance would make it unuseable.

Maybe they are using the new DT terminal with G.709 and the 1600 Amps? Who knows, press rlease is probably wrong anyway.
whyiswhy 12/4/2012 | 11:31:43 PM
re: Nortel's Korean Deployment: How Big? Nope, unless the datarate per fiber drops to nothin', or they get double Raman. Alcatel has the best I know of:


Note the 350Km figure uses only one remotely pumped Raman, and low data rates. Maybe with two, one on each end?

lasso 12/4/2012 | 11:31:42 PM
re: Nortel's Korean Deployment: How Big? An unrepeatered link of 95 dB span loss seems unplausible, so I wonder if Nortel is upgrading the terminal equipment of a previously installed submarine system made by some other vendor.

It is routine to upgrade an older submarine links (short hops, not trans-oceanic) with updated terminal equipment to take advantage of gains in TDM and FEC. Often the original submarine vendor charges excessively for upgrades, and so the customer may approach a 3rd party vendor to supply modern terminal equipment.

Kumite 12/4/2012 | 11:31:35 PM
re: Nortel's Korean Deployment: How Big? lasso,

That sounds like a reasonable theory.

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