BT And Alcatel-Lucent Set 1.4Tbps Fibre Bandwidth Record

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Researchers say it is possible to achieve such speeds across the whole of BT’s core network

Alcatel-Lucent and BT have set a record for data transfer over fibre, reaching an incredible 1.4Tbps while using commercial grade hardware on an existing network connection.

By applying the new ‘Flexible Grid’ (Flexgrid) technology to increase the density of channels, researchers managed to improve data transmission efficiency by 42.5 percent.

“BT has a long history of leading innovation in telecommunications, from the earliest days of the electric telegraph to today’s global fibre networks,” said Dr Tim Whitley, BT’s MD of Research and Innovation. “These trials continue that tradition, as we work with Alcatel-Lucent to push the boundaries of fibre technology, allowing us to support the ever increasing bandwidth required by our customers, and deliver new and exciting services which rely on fast, data-hungry applications.”

“Alien Super Channel”

During October and November, BT and Alcatel-Lucent conducted a series of unusual speed tests on a 410 kilometre link of fibre cable between the BT Tower in London and BT’s Adastral Park research campus in Suffolk.

Fibreoptic cable © asiana Shutterstock 2013The trial involved the creation of an ‘Alien Super Channel’, a bundle of seven 200 Gbps channels that provide a combined capacity of 1.4Tbps and operate transparently on top of BT’s existing optical network.

By reducing the spectral spacing between the channels from 50GHz to 35GHz, researchers were able to enhance spectral efficiency – a measure of how a limited frequency spectrum is utilized by the physical layer protocol – by 42.5 percent, to 5.7 bits per second per Hertz.

This is thought to be a record for a real-world network, capable of transmitting 44 uncompressed High Definition films every second.

BT says that in the future, the Flexgrid approach could increase its core network capacity without the need to lay more fibre, reducing the expense and squeezing more value out of the existing infrastructure.

“Investing for the future is core to BT’s strategy and this outstanding achievement demonstrates that BT can easily introduce new features and technologies across our core network maximizing the efficiency of our existing infrastructure,” commented Neil McRae, chief network architect at BT. “Working with Alcatel-Lucent on this trial has been highly productive in demonstrating the viability of an alien wavelength approach.”

Alcatel-Lucent is attempting  to re-position itself as a specialist vendor of networking solutions, and its work with BT to increase high-speed network capacity is part of a project known as The Shift Plan. This strategy, developed under new CEO Michel Combes, will see the company cut 10,000 jobs worldwide by 2015.

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