Innovative optical fibers and cabling may offer providers and enterprises substantial benefits for connecting data centers across a wide range of distances while simultaneously using newer technologies that reduce range.
The critical challenge facing operators today is to deliver sufficient capacity in their networks to allow customers to properly access data-heavy applications and services such as live video calling, high-density video streaming and virtual/augmented reality, according to the last report from NGON & DCI Europe's three-part series, "Fiber and Cable for the Cloud." Not only are these applications drawing data at higher rates, many households frequently run several active devices simultaneously putting pressure on the network to consistently deliver high quality of service.
Operators respond by migrating to more spectrally efficient modulation schemes that extend capacity at a lower cost per bit. Because of these trends, very high fiber-count cables (more than 3,000 optical fibers) become essential for connecting hyperscale data centers within a campus over distances of less than 10km. Indeed, 200G is now established and 400G is emerging -- but this progression can lead to a practical trade-off in reach, this series of reports shows. That is, 200G 16-QAM operation limits practically achievable reach to less than 1000km and 400G 64-QAM to less than 100km.
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Installing fiber with ultra-low loss (ULL) ensures the optical-signal to-noise-ratio (OSNR) at each amplifier is elevated, allowing operators to add more spans before performance is degraded to the point of generating errors at higher data rate protocols. Put simply, the capability delivered by ultra-low loss fiber allows operators to transmit more data over longer distances with less equipment and lower installation, land acquisition and maintenance costs.
In metro DCI scenarios, ULL fibers can extend network reach, ultimately empowering data centers to relocate to areas with cheaper real estate that are nearer to renewable energy sources. And when ULL is combined in a fiber with larger effective area, even longer spans and reach are enabled as providers launch higher power signals before introducing performance degradation due to non-linear signal distortions.
Download "Fiber and Cable for the Cloud" today and get access to an exclusive discount code to NGON & DCI Europe 2018.
Missed the previous reports of the series?
In "To 400G and beyond," experts explore the arrival of the 400G era which lets operators squeeze yet more bits from their network assets. The report dives deeper into the state of next-generation optical networking as technologies and deployments ramp up from 100Gbit/s to 400Gbit/s and beyond. Get your free copy.
For its part, "Open Line Systems Gather Momentum" analyzes how disaggregation and SDN control are set to dominate optical networking -- and the key questions that remain. Download the report.
— Adrian Pennington is a journalist and editor specializing in the creation, business and technology of moving image media. Published in The Guardian, The Financial Times and The Hollywood Reporter he also copywrites a range of marketing materials for brands and marketing agencies. Follow Adrian on Twitter at @pennington1; on LinkedIn at