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BT partners with Huawei for 3 Tbps over existing fibre

BT R&D MD Tim Whitley

BT and Huawei have successfully trialled a 3 Terabit per second (Tbps) super channel connection over an existing fibre optic link, paving the way for significant capacity on BT’s core fibre optic networks without having to replace cables.

Tim Whitley, managing director of research and innovation at BT, said that the Flexgrid – sometimes called gridless – technique used to increase the capacity is theoretically capable of taking the speed of a single fibre up to 25Tbps, so the existing 60-fibre cables could carry a total of 1.5 Petabits per second.

“It gives me confidence that as customers find more bandwidth intensive applications our core networks will be able to keep pace – and we are doing it with production equipment,” said Whitley.

Researchers at BT’s Adastral Park research campus in Suffolk reckon that capacity demands are doubling every few years, or between 25- and 30-fold over a decade. Currently its core network is capable of around 1 Tbps so it needs to get to 25 Tbps in 10 years

The Flexgrid approach reduces the spacing between transmission channels, normally set at 50GHz, allowing more channels per fibre. In the trial, this was reduced to 33.5GHz, almost 50 per cent more efficient, allowing 15 200GHz sub-channels to be bundled together to reach the 3Tbps cap

The tests were made over a 359 kilometre fibre link running between the Adastral Park and the BT Tower in central London. Huawei’s OSN 9800/8800 and iManager U2000 platform was used for the Flexgrid configuration. The super channel was configured and monitored from BT’s live Transport Network Operations Centre (TNOC) in Cambridge.

The researchers at BT are doing their bit to drive the need for more capacity: work on increasing consumer broadband over copper wires is now pushing 1Gbps as part of the International Telecomunications Union’s G.Fast development. It expects to be able to offer such speeds to consumers by the end of next year.


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