Verizon has made good on its previously stated plan to use 200G optical wavelengths in its network before the end of 2014.
Well, sort of…
The carrier has deployed a 200-Gbit/s wavelength on a single route, namely Boston to New York City, using technology from vendor partner Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN). Perhaps not surprisingly, that's the same route on which it tested 200G in late 2013. (See Verizon Uses Ciena Gear for First 200G Wave and Verizon to Cut Costs With 200G in 2014.)
In its official announcement, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) noted that this is its "first office application" of 200G. No -- that's not a typo: Telcos sometimes use that phrase to mean an initial deployment in a live customer environment, though over the years I've heard it more often from companies referencing the finally stage of a trial period for a new technology, which, granted, could also be taking place in a live customer environment. It also occurred to me that I hadn't heard it in many years, as if it had been retired from the telecom lexicon. (Or maybe just the PR lexicon?)
Is there a difference? Maybe not. Are I splitting hairs? Maybe, though these days I don't have many to split. But I guess I was expecting a broader rollout, or more fanfare, given that Verizon had touted the cost savings of 200G last year.
A few months ago, the telco declined a request from Light Reading for an interview about its 200G plans. At that point, I was starting to wonder if Verizon or any other major carrier would say anything publicly about using 200G this year.
Ciena also didn't have much to add at that point, just saying it was involved in ongoing trials with Verizon, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and other carriers.
So, maybe Verizon was just covering its bases this week, heading off pesky reporters and making sure it put out some sort of public statement about some sort of live 200G deployment before 2014.
I'll give Verizon this much: It's casting a light on a technology evolution that, outside of a couple recent vendor announcements, hasn't gotten much attention. The 100G optical market is very much alive, and expanding from the long-haul into metro networks. As a result, it's an area of increasing focus for the financial analyst community, which is tracking 100G demand in order to assess the health of optical equipment vendors. (See Alcatel-Lucent Announces 200G DWDM Line Card and Huawei Unveils 200Gbit/s Metro Photonic Integration Device.)
The other big optical trend we continue to hear a lot about is the one that isn't close to happening yet -- the move to 400G, or even beyond, to 1 Tbit/s. These bandwidth thresholds were the talk of the recent SuperComputing 14 conference, but in terms of broad, commercial deployments, they are still years away. (See Terabit in Action at SC14.)
But 200G appears to be at the doorstep: At least, Verizon is talking about it, if only in somewhat opaque terms. We should remember, also, that 200G will likely not have the broad applicability of 100G, and therefore not attract as much attention, as its reach and cost benefits make it more viable for regional routes.
Still, I'll be expecting to hear a lot more about 200G in 2015 as more carriers look to take the next step beyond 100G. Though I hope it's a while before I hear the phrase "first office application" again.
— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading