Alcatel-Lucent boosts submarine speeds with 3T bps demo

Growing amount of video traffic puts pressure on submarine cables

Alcatel-Lucent and Apollo SCS (Submarine Cable System), which sells transatlantic bandwidth to telecos and ISPs, has transmitted about 3T bps (bits per second) across the Atlantic Ocean, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

The demonstration was conducted over a distance of 6,221 kilometers using Apollo's North cable system, which was announced in 2003 and links the U.S. and the U.K. Seventy-two channels at 40G bps were carried over one fiber pair during the demonstration, according to Alcatel-Lucent. That's twice as fast as existing systems, the company said.

Today, most transoceanic cables use channels that can transmit up to 10G bps. The hope among Apollo's operator customers is that the switch to 40G bps channels will help cut costs, according to Dan Hughes, sales and marketing director at Apollo. But Apollo still isn't sure what the price difference will be between four 10G bps channels and one 40G bps channel, Hughes said.

To upgrade from 10G bps to 40G bps, Apollo needs to equip its Alcatel-Lucent 1620 Light Manager submarine line terminals, which are on land, with new line cards. No changes are needed under the ocean surface. If that had been the case, the upgrade would have been commercially very difficult to justify, Hughes said.

Apollo's roll out of 40G bps will likely start at the beginning of 2011, according to Hughes.

Just like on land, the need for more undersea capacity comes from the increasing amount of video traffic -- for instance, from HD video conferencing and YouTube clips sent using the Internet, according to Hughes.

The successful demonstration was announced at the SubOptic trade show in Yokohama, Japan, where Alcatel-Lucent also showed a prototype of an upcoming system that will support 100G bps per wavelength. Alcatel-Lucent isn't saying publicly when that system will start shipping.

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