ZTE Crunches 100G Costs

ZTE Corp. believes lower pricing is one of the keys to unlocking the 100Gbit/s transport infrastructure market and is set to make its offerings more affordable with the help of some in-house developments. Wei Xiaoqiang, vice director of wireline product planning, says ZTE ultimately aims to reduce the price of a 100Gbit/s port to around five to six times that of a 10Gbit/s port, compared with the current (uneconomic) level of more than 10 times the cost. ZTE says it has developed its own ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) -- including a framer for 100Gbit/s -- and other lower-priced dedicated components. Additionally, ZTE is widening its range of component suppliers, which, said Wei, should also yield lower prices. Like many transport industry executives, Wei regards 40Gbit/s as a transitional step that will be quickly supplanted by 100Gbit/s. And this is the year the market for 100Gbit/s will finally take off, believes the ZTE man, with carriers ready to embark on "large-scale development." That trend, and the maturing of the supply chain, will also lower prices and, in turn, help drive scale. On the operational cost side, ZTE is targeting more efficient power consumption. "We think this year we can lower it to 20 percent per bit lower than 10Gbit/s," Wei says. But "because 100Gbit/s involves using a high speed DSP and advanced program logic, it's not easy," to reduce power consumption. Although ZTE doesn't have the scale and customer base of optical rivals such as Ciena Corp. and Alcatel-Lucent, it has made its mark in the optical transport sector as a supplier to the world's largest 100G deployment, at Chinese research network CERNET, and to the longest 400Gbit/s trial. (See CERNET Taps ZTE for Coherent 100G OTN and ZTE Claims 400G Transport First.) In its domestic market, ZTE has conducted major trials with China Mobile Ltd. and China Telecom Corp. Ltd., both of which are expected to issue tenders for 100Gbit/s systems later this year. (See China Telecom Preps 100G Trial.) Naturally, Wei believes the prospects for the deployment of 100Gbit/s capabilities are strong in China, where backbone traffic volumes are growing by 60 percent to 70 percent annually, and predicts the biggest demand for ZTE products will be in Asia/Pacific. Wei expects that within three to four years, 50 percent of optical transport backbones worldwide will include 100Gbit/s technology. — Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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