Alcatel-Lucent sees the 100 Gbps optical light

Ciena's early lead (NASDAQ: CIEN) in next-gen Coherent optical technology is facing a challenger in Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and its new Coherent 100 Gbps optical card.

Alcatel-Lucent's DWDM 100 Gbps card, which it claims can carry a single carrier 100 Gbps on a wavelength, is designed to run the vendor's 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS). While the new card can also work with older generation DWDM systems, including the 1625 LambdaXtreme and the 1626 Light Manager, the difference is that the 1830 can provide 500 Gbps per system.

Alcatel-Lucent 1830 Photonic Service SwitchRight now, the only other vendor to leverage coherent optics for 100 Gbps optical networking is Ciena's OME 6500, a system that came with its purchase of Nortel's MEN division. That system is currently in operation by Verizon (NYSE:VZ) on a live 100 Gbps route between Paris and Frankfurt, Germany.

But what would a new technology announcement be without a technology differentiation claim? In Alcatel-Lucent's case the differentiator is that the line card incorporates single-carrier coherent technology, while Ciena's system uses two carriers. The benefit of single-carrier coherent technology, argues Alcatel-Lucent, is that it offers "higher integration and longer transmission reach with significantly lower network complexity, operational costs and power consumption."

Perhaps the one thing that Ciena does have over Alcatel-Lucent is that their platform has already been deployed in live networks. However, Alcatel-Lucent's card has garnered the attention of both Telefonica and Japanese service provider SoftBank. Telefonica has trialed the system, while SoftBank is using the network card to not only conduct a 100 Gbps demonstration at Interop Tokyo, but also for its backbone network.   

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