AT&T confirms test of 400 Gbps Ethernet connection between NY, D.C.

Ethernet cables in on premise equipment

AT&T said it successfully tested a 400 Gbps Ethernet (400GbE) connection using live traffic on the carrier’s network between New York and Washington, D.C. “A software-defined network (SDN) controller created a service along the direct path between the two cities, and through software control rerouted the service to a second path to simulate a response to a network failure,” the company said in a release.

The test essentially represents the first phase of a three-part 400GbE trial that AT&T initially outlined last year. The company promised the first test would happen early this year and would use Coriant’s optical gear to carry a 400GbE service across a long-distance span of AT&T global backbone from New York to Washington, demonstrating that AT&T's nationwide software-centric network is 400G-ready.

Part of the reason for the tests is to encourage interoperability, the company said late last year. “One of the networking realities we see on the optical side is when you have a certain metro and you have gear from vendor and when you want to connect to another metro or another service provider, you have to have the same gear,” Dan Blemings, director of Ethernet product management at AT&T, told FierceTelecom in November. “Even though it’s all-optical, vendors still put their own special sauces onto their platforms.”

Added Blemings: “The way we do it today at AT&T is we have network people in the field who literally pick up the phone and call another service provider we want to connect to and ask what gear they are using because we want to put a ROADM in between us. That sort of behavior needs to change in the future because we need to move faster and have our gear work together more seamlessly.”

RELATED: AT&T to begin 400 Gigabit Ethernet trials in 2017

AT&T said its 400GbE tests would help the company’s customers transmit more high-quality video.

AT&T said these tests now pave the way for phase two and three of its 400GbE efforts. The second phase will implement a 400GbE end-to-end service transported across AT&T’s OpenROADM metro network. And the third phase “will test the first instance of a 400GbE open router platform. The ‘disaggregated router’ platform uses merchant silicon and open source software—another industry first,” the company said.

Of course, AT&T isn’t the only player testing 400GbE. Just last week, Acacia Communications, Optelian, Precise-ITC, Spirent and Xilinx said they plan to demonstrate the industry’s first interoperability across the technology spectrum to support 200GbE and 400GbE connectivity over standardized during this week’s OFC 2017 trade show in Los Angeles.