Ciena Goes Terabit

11:00 AM -- As you might imagine, 1Tbit/s optical transmission is already running in labs. It's just not ready for public presentation.

I got a look at one setup last week, while visiting Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) in Ottawa. The setup didn't disappoint: three shelves of gear clattered together, as if someone had spent a day at the OFC/NFOEC flea market.

That's not meant to be an insult; it's fun to see technology that's still in that raw prototype stage.

This particular experiment had the extra fun of being in a historic location -- Carling Place, the former Nortel Networks Ltd. campus. This is where they developed 10Gbit/s DWDM and Nortel's first 100Gbit/s products. I got to meet Charles Laperle, one of those longtime researchers who's carried on with Ciena -- a wiry, gray-haired fellow with small glasses.

We weren't allowed to photograph the terabit setup. So, I took a few other touristy shots around the lab -- like these massive stores of fiber, all spooled up and ready to go. It's kept on the shelf like extra flour in the pantry.

This visit was part of a media day, which in turn was part of the five-week Vectors Summit, during which Ciena brings a few hundred customers through the labs to give feedback on the company's R&D plans.

This was also the place where coherent optical transmission was developed. Dino DiPerna, vice president of transport R&D, said it came about after Nortel had glued together an 80Gbit/s non-coherent demo for Telecom '99. It was even less elegant than the 1Tbit/s shelves.

"I like to say we had every element in the periodic table," DiPerna told media visitors. "The radio guys came over from the other side of the campus and said, 'Is that all you can do? Turn a light on and off?'" The radio guys, of course, had been using coherent receivers for years. The mixing of cultures at Carling Place brought the two sides together.

As for exactly how Ciena's doing coherent 1Tbit/s, they're using 16-QAM modulation and five carriers of 200Gbit/s each, creating a 1Tbit/s waveform that can fit in a 200GHz space. Laperle's demo puts that onto a fiber also carrying 83 100Gbit/s wavelengths, to show that terabit can share real-world conditions. The combination points to a future of flexible-grid optics.

Getting to 1Tbit/s has a lot to do with digital signal processing. Coherent detection involves having a DSP on the receiving side, but Ciena is adding one to the transmitter as well, said Helen Xenos, senior product and solutions marketing manager at Ciena.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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adcunha 12/5/2012 | 5:35:48 PM
re: Ciena Goes Terabit

For those of you who'd like to see the Terabit demo that Craig saw as part of this article, we just posted a video of the demo in action.  You can find it here:


opticaljunkie 12/5/2012 | 4:50:14 PM
re: Ciena Goes Terabit

So Craig is that the best you can do? Talk about the look of the R&D guy who probably tried really hard to explain what's going on to you?? Seriously? Did you know the same fellow is on one of OFC's sub committees' too? Like you said, in the end you're just a tourist, not an analyst in my opinion. 

- One of many who think lightreading is a joke. 

jggveth 12/5/2012 | 4:50:13 PM
re: Ciena Goes Terabit

Someone is clearly going as an [email protected]@hat for halloween.  He probably keeps his costume on all year. 

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:50:13 PM
re: Ciena Goes Terabit

Pretty much the entire explanation Charles and Helen gave me *is* in the article -- that's why I did this as a blog rather than a news story. They weren't going to give me a deep dive.  This was a glance at the setup for novelty's sake, and to show (very generally) the status of terabit at Ciena: It's doable, and it's been shrunk to three-rack size so far.

tojofay 12/5/2012 | 4:50:12 PM
re: Ciena Goes Terabit

Dr. Kuang-Tsan Wu, who has joined Infinera to lead the Ottawa team, is 

one of the world’s foremost experts in designing optical systems

ninjaturtle 12/5/2012 | 4:50:11 PM
re: Ciena Goes Terabit

Craig is no more than a writer for a High School yearbook in an inner city. He somehow has to justify his job daily. That the toughest part of his job. 

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:50:10 PM
re: Ciena Goes Terabit

Interesting post because I know Ciena has been a talent pool for Infinera. Do you know of some other big names that have gone from one to the other recently?

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:50:10 PM
re: Ciena Goes Terabit

Isn't justifying why one should keep his/her job the hardest part of everyone's job?


Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:50:09 PM
re: Ciena Goes Terabit

> Craig is no more than a writer for a High School yearbook in an inner city. He somehow has to justify his job daily. That the toughest part of his job.


Awesome! I'll be sure to add that to my resume.

sam masud 12/5/2012 | 4:50:09 PM
re: Ciena Goes Terabit

No need to get so personal. Journalists often work under difficult circumstances defined by output and deadlines.

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