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China Mobile to start on 400G this yearChina Mobile to start on 400G this year

400G optical to play central role in new Jiuzhou computing network architecture.

Robert Clark

June 16, 2023

2 Min Read
China Mobile to start on 400G this year
China's biggest operator is preparing for an optical splurge.Source: Grid Scheduler on Flickr (public domain)

China Mobile is ready to deploy 400G optical and expects to call its first tenders by the end of the year.

The giant operator plans to deploy 400G Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (QPSK) in its long-distance backbone and mostly 16QAM-PCS or 16QAM in metro networks, says Li Han, director of basic network technology at the China Mobile Research Institute.

China Mobile completed the world's first 400G QPSK pilot with vendor partner ZTE in March, achieving high-speed transmission over 5,600km.

Li told an industry conference Thursday he believed 400G was a disruptive technology that would play the role of a "load-bearing wall of bandwidth" in China Mobile's digital infrastructure.

It will also be a core part of the operator's new Jiuzhou computing network architecture, unveiled earlier this week.

In a white paper, China Mobile said Jiuzhou would encompass 400G optical connectivity and a distributed cloud architecture, with edge computing and three levels of latency, from 1 millisecond in the city to 20 milliseconds in the countryside.

It said the 400G OTN would initially be deployed at major computing hub nodes, then in the backbone.

East-West project

A major driver of China Mobile's optical plans is a government scheme to build out China's national "computing power network" – a chain of data centers and high-speed fiber links that will support the new computer-intensive era of AI, deep learning, 5G Advanced and the industrial Internet.

One key part of this is the East-West plan, in which data from the industrialized eastern seaboard is being hauled to lower cost, renewables-powered data centers in the less developed west over high-speed links.

So far China Mobile has deployed more than 40 super-large data centers with more than 1.3 million racks and over 1,000 edge nodes.

Li said the telco's 400G R&D had initially focused mainly on 16QAM-PCS and 16QAM, but last year had turned to QPSK, driven by breakthroughs from three domestic vendors.

Zhang Bin, vice president of FiberHome's network business unit, said he believes 400G OTN will dominate optical fiber for the next ten years. But he said Chinese manufacturers would need to invest more in R&D to keep pace with the large-scale rapid rollout.

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— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Robert Clark

Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

Robert Clark is an independent technology editor and researcher based in Hong Kong. In addition to contributing to Light Reading, he also has his own blog,  Electric Speech (http://www.electricspeech.com). 

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