ALU, Verizon Tune In to Wavelength Routing

As it continues to build out its long-haul 100G network, Verizon will be able to leverage new software-based wavelength routing capabilities from Alcatel-Lucent that combine existing coherent 100G technology, colorless-directionless-contentionless (CDC) ROADM technology and wavelength monitoring features with a new routing engine, the vendor announced Monday.

While coherent technology, CDC ROADM capabilities and wavelength management are not necessarily new to the world of optical networking, vendors such as Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) and now Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), have been highlighting these capabilities recently as they look to provide carriers with more software-based methods for activating, deactivating and managing wavelengths. (See ALU Enables Flexible Wavelength Routing for Verizon and Infinera Urges Cable Toward Optical Innovation.)

"Verizon will be able to tune any wavelength to any outlet port and vice versa," Sam Bucci, vice president and general manager of Alcatel-Lucent's terrestrial optics group, tells Light Reading. "We can take any color at any point in the network and connect it with any other point in the network."

While that sounds little like what CDC ROADMs are already supposed to be able to do, Bucci says the new capabilities build beyond the ability to tune such ROADMs from a central location. The vendor's Wave Routing Engine software is the newest piece ALU is adding to its existing 1830 Photonic Service Switching platform to fully enable flexible, automated wavelength routing.

"Our wavelength routing engine is a combination of software pieces we've put together,” Bucci says. "It's not just ROADMs, but the way that we combine ROADMs and multi-cast switches and optical time division reflectometers, which helps us find fiber cuts and all the software were putting together with that."

The benefits include reduced capex and opex. "It's cheaper to switch wavelength at Layer 0 than at any other layer," Bucci says.

Want to know more about metro 100G developments? Check out our dedicated 100G content channel right here on Light Reading.

Another benefit is better bandwidth utilization. To date, coherent architectures perhaps have not been used to their full advantage. "If you use a color of light in any part of the network, that color is reserved until it gets to its destination. You can't re-use it in the next span," Bucci explains. "But, with Wave Router, you effectively can use any frequency in any part of the network, so with coherent technology, we're finally using it for what it really was intended to do -- tune like a radio to any frequency coming in and any other frequency going out."

The result is more efficient use of wavelengths and spectrum and no lost bandwidth. "There's no stranded capacity, and, as we activate networks where there is 100G or beyond that on a wavelength, you can scale the network effectively," he says.

If this capability sounds familiar, it's because Ciena recently made a similar case with its Coherent Select capability. (See Ciena Addresses Rise of Web-Scale Dynamics and New Ciena Products Target Web-Scale Evolution.)

Bucci says Alcatel-Lucent also worked jointly with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) to develop a wavelength de-fragmentation capability that goes even further than wavelength re-use. "You can de-fragment the wave architecture in your network so you can recover wavelengths, in the same way you might de-fragment a hard drive to recover space," he says.

This announcement comes as ALU is building the second rail of Verizon's nationwide 100G network, a project that it won to much industry surprise in early 2014. (See Analyst: Infinera Loses VZ Deal to AlcaLu.)

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
thebulk 3/31/2015 | 5:23:03 AM
Very cool It seems like this could really change the way provider networks are utilized. This could make them much more scalable. I am sure there will be services that develop around this ability as it roles out and might even open up the market to some new services. 
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