AT&T wraps single-wavelength 400 Gigabit Ethernet testing, aligns with upcoming IEEE standard

Ethernet cable
This trial is another proof point in AT&T's effort to virtualize its broader network.

AT&T has finished testing a single-wavelength 400 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) data speed over its production network, capping off the final phase of what has been a multi-step trial that began last year to evolve its Ethernet service portfolio and open network vision.

This trial, which coincides with the IEEE standards-based 400 GbE end-to-end standard, is another proof point in its effort to virtualize its broader network.

By using open-source controller technology, the end-to-end service was transported across the AT&T Open ROADM metro network with Ciena’s optical gear. Before this trial, all other field demonstrations have required multiple wavelengths to create a 400 GbE connection.

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

For this trial, AT&T looked new open optical network advances around reconfigurable add-drop multiplexers (ROADMs) and SDN-based controllers. AT&T and other telcos like Verizon are seeing benefits from the vendor community’s development of colorless, directionless and contentionless (CDC) ROADMs.

A CDC ROADM allows any wavelength (carrying 100 G traffic), which resides in a telco from any direction be dropped to any switch/router port, or any switch/router port can send its 100 G traffic to any wavelength heading for any direction.

AT&T also used open-sourced white boxes to act as network equipment during the trials, enabling the telco to control costs and create interoperability between the foundational hardware elements of the network.

With these trials complete, AT&T says it can upgrade its network backbones to offer 400 GbE and prepare to offer ultrafast speeds to business customers.

"Introducing 400 GbE is a natural next step," said Roman Pacewicz, chief product officer for AT&T Business, in a release. “Customer demands have shifted to faster speeds, more video-centric content and cloud integration."

The availability of 400 GbE services enables businesses like online video streaming services, search engines and mobility companies with the ability to transfer massive amounts of data at record speeds. A service provider could transport about 10 two-hour movies in less than a second, for example.

During a trial on the carrier’s network between New York and Washington, D.C., AT&T successfully tested a 400 GbE connection using live traffic. For that test, AT&T used an 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.

That test essentially represented the first phase of a three-part 400GbE trial that AT&T initially outlined last year. During that test, the telco used Coriant’s optical gear to carry a 400 GbE service across a long-distance span of AT&T global backbone from New York to Washington, demonstrating that its nationwide software-centric network is 400 G-ready.