Verizon to Cut Costs With 200G in 2014

Successful field trial prompts plans to deploy Ciena system on regional routes next year

August 13, 2013

3 Min Read
Verizon to Cut Costs With 200G in 2014

Verizon Communications Inc.'s deployment of 200G is only a year away now that it has completed a successful field trial of 200Gbit/s optical technology in the Northeast, the carrier said Tuesday.

The upcoming deployment will enable Verizon to dramatically cut the cost per bit of its transport services, at least over shorter distances, such as the 260-mile Boston to New York route that it tested.

The field trial used pre-production software to run a single wavelength of 200Gbit/s traffic on a Ciena Corp. 6500 that's currently deployed by Verizon to deliver 100Gbits/s traffic between New York and Boston. Because Verizon was able to double the spectral efficiency of that network for the cost of a card change, the financial benefits will be there from day one with 200G, at least over shorter metro and regional fiber routes, says Verizon Engineering Fellow Steven Gringeri. Verizon is planning to begin deployment in the second half of 2014.

"The biggest thing for us is that this field trial validated that everything works in a real production environment, over real fibers and a real system," he says. "The only thing that wasn't in final form was the 200-Gig card."

Ciena's WaveLogic3 platform was designed to make the transition from 100G to 200G and 400G deployments with new cards that can be programmed to support either 100G using Quad Phase Shift Key (QPSK) modulation or Binary Phase Shift Key (BPSK) technology for longer reach deployments, or 16 QAM -- quadrature amplitude modulation -- for the 200G and 400G deployments, adds Helen Xenos, director of product and technology marketing at Ciena.

The vendor isn't saying exactly when it will announce commercial 200G cards, Xenos says, or what the final reach will be for that technology. But the chips are available today to support 200G, and it's likely that Ciena will be ready on Verizon's timetable.

Gringeri says Verizon is expecting a 500 km to 800 km reach for 200G, making it better suited to metro and regional deployments than for long-haul systems, which would require regeneration and use of additional cards, thus wrecking the cost-effectiveness equation.

That means early deployments are likely to be in places like the densely populated Northeast, where the fiber runs are shorter and the traffic demands are high to support LTE, streaming video and cloud services, Gringeri says.

The goal is not to offer a 200G service but to be able to map two 100G services onto the same wavelength for the cost of a small incremental upgrade.

"The actual cost of hardware changes by only a small amount, and it gives you a much lower cost per bit with only a slight incremental cost in hardware producing the double the rate," Gringeri says. "There is a trade-off in terms of distances but this becomes more cost-effective than 100G right away for the right routes."

The race is clearly on among both carriers and vendors to improve the performance of optical networks, given the expected bandwidth demands and the operating cost crunch most carriers face. This announcement marks yet another significant development. (See France Telecom, Alcalu Deploy 400G Link and Beyond 100G: Optical Vendors Push for 400G)).

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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