What lies beyond 100G?
Service providers on both the wireless and the wireline segments of the telecom industry continue to face an even stronger demand for bandwidth from their business and consumer customers.
This increased bandwidth demand is driving a growing number of large incumbents and even competitive telcos to make a migration towards 100G in their core backbone and metro networks.
There are the early advocates like Verizon (NYSE: VZ), which is deploying 100G on select metro and long-haul routes in both its domestic and international markets. Following initial deployments in a few of its European routes, the telco announced in May that it would deploy Ciena's (Nasdaq: CIEN) 5430 Reconfigurable Switching System, a packet optical transport system (P-OTS) and control plane technology, in its metro network in 2013.
XO Communications, meanwhile, has laid claim to one of the first nationwide 100G optical deployments. In August, the CLEC deployed Nokia Siemens Networks' (NSN) coherent network platforms on its long haul and intercity fiber networks. Later, in September, XO announced it had selected Ciena's 6500 platform, which it will initially deploy in its New York City market, to serve its high-end wholesale carrier customers.
Regardless of where each service provider is today, they will have the support of common technology in coherent optics and the support of three standards bodies: the ITU, IEEE and the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF).
These standards bodies are working on specifications and standards that will potentially help vendors and carriers advance to 400G and even Terabit speeds.
The IEEE's 802.3 Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group, for example, is in the process of developing a Terabit Ethernet standard. What drove the formation of this group was the advent of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment report, which found that networks will need to support Tbps speeds by 2015 if current global bandwidth requirements continue to climb. By 2020, the group forecasts that networks will have support 10 Tbps.
No less compelling is the OIF's efforts. The OIF's Physical and Link Layer (PLL) working group's Multi-Link Gearbox 2.0 project, for example, is focused on how to synchronize data rates of 4x10G lanes with 4x25G lanes. Part of that project includes how to process link technology with optical interfaces as bandwidth grows to 400G data rates.
Unlike the previous 40G generation, where there were a multitude of options and techniques, the coalescence between standards bodies has provided the clarity that the telecom industry needs to deploy 100G systems, said Jim Jones, president of the OIF.
"One of the drivers is the clarity around the industry standards where, of course, we have the ITU defining the optical transport hierarchy (OTH); we have the IEEE defining the Ethernet side of things; and the OIF defining many of the interconnections between devices and modules and the multi-source agreements (MSAs) for the modules themselves," he said. "What that has allowed is consensus among the industry where you have the ecosystem building up underneath that."
But already service providers, standards bodies and vendors are looking what is going to come after 100G.
FierceTelecom discusses the 100G and beyond evolution in its latest eBook, Looking Beyond 100G.