Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fiber Optic Networks Need Denser Wavelength Multiplexing To Meet Demand

Just when you thought that businesses were hunkering down for the worst recession ever and wouldn’t need more capacity for a decade, fiber optic network carriers are scrambling to meet demand. But they’re not going nuts and digging trenches everywhere. Instead, they are taking the smart approach of using technology to increase bandwidth on their installed facilities.

XO Communications, a major fiber optic network carrier, recently announced that it is installing new optical line equipment from Infinera to double its capacity per fiber strand. The Infinera Line System 2 doubles the number of channels for C-band fiber optic systems (1550 nm) from 80 to 160 channels. For XO, this will create an additional optical capacity of 1.6 Terabits/second (Tbps) on their nationwide network.

What is XO hoping to do with all this additional bandwidth? They are using it to support their carrier to carrier services called “Carrier Wavelength FLEX” and “10 Gigs in 10 Days.” With the new Infinera hardware and software, XO Communications will be able to provision any service from 1 Gbps to 40 Gbps between any two points on the network in 10 days or less. In the future they plan to up that to 100 Gbps.

What XO is doing is really two initiatives at once. One is doubling capacity and making it scalable for future expansions. The other is speeding the process of provisioning service so that their customers, other carriers and businesses, can respond more quickly to marketplace needs. You might say that faster is better all the way around.

Certainly, XO Communications is making a move to position itself as a provider of choice as demand for bandwidth picks up. But they may also recognize that business coming out of this turndown may look somewhat different than it did going into the slide.

For one thing, technology is being seen by all size operations as a way to improve productivity at lower risk and lower cost that simply staffing up. Technical solutions can drive cost out of a process and reduce the amount of labor needed to support a given business level. Telecommunication capability is more vital than ever as solutions migrate toward the “cloud” and business entities are coupled more and more tightly.

The nature of many business services is also changing in a way that demands more bandwidth. Take television and video production, for instance. High definition and, soon, 3D images are far more demanding on digital bandwidth than lower resolution products. The health care industry seems destined for a complete move from paper forms and photographic processes to all-electronic generation, transmission and storage. Certainly, this will improve productivity and take incremental cost out of the processes, but there will be big infrastructure investments to be made before the massive cost savings can be realized.

New Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) equipment, such as Infinera’s Line System 2, will be critical to all carriers as they look to increase capacity over their installed base of fiber optic strands. XO is simply getting a jump in upgrading their network before the mad scramble begins. That could be any time now.

If you are feeling bandwidth constrained in your business operations, you should know that lease prices per Mbps have dropped considerably recently. You may be able to upgrade to the level of service you need without the jaw dropping cost you are anticipating. How do you find out for sure? Get a quick and complementary fiber optic bandwidth service quote through our GigaPackets service. Our Telarus expert consultants will be happy to review the complete range of solutions available for your location.

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