BT and Alcatel-Lucent have demonstrated data transmission speeds of 1.4 terabits per second (Tbps) over a fibre-optic link, which the pair claims is the fastest ever achieved in commercial-grade hardware in a real-world environment. The demo hints at how faster speeds could be delivered in future.
The trial was conducted during October and November last year, over an existing 410km fibre optic link between two of BT's sites – the iconic BT Tower in London and its Adastral Park research campus in Ipswitch – using Alcatel equipment.
BT and Alcatel-Lucent said that the speed of 1.4Tbps was made possible by combining seven 200Gbps channels bundled together to transmit data along the fibre. This in turn was accomplished by reducing the spacing between channels on the fibre from a typical 50GHz to 35GHz, delivering a record-breaking spectral efficiency of 5.7 bits per second per Hertz, the firms claimed.
The success of the trial could point the way forwards for high-speed wide-area networks (WANs), as it used existing Alcatel-Lucent equipment such as the 1830 Photonic Service Switch to create what the pair have dubbed a new ‘flexible grid' (Flexgrid) infrastructure.
In fact, the trials were performed using production equipment that was software reconfigurable between 200Gbps using 16 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), and 100Gbps using quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK) modulation.
Dr Tim Whitley, BT's director of Research and Innovation, said the firm has a long history of leading innovation in telecommunications.
"These trials continue that tradition, as we work with Alcatel-Lucent to push the boundaries of fibre technology, allowing us to support the ever-increasing bandwidth required by our customers, and deliver new and exciting services which rely on fast, data-hungry applications," he said.
The two firms said that the combined 1.4Tbps channel showed stable, error-free operation when transmitting with a mix of 40Gbps and 100Gbps native wavelength, when using both standard 50GHz sub-channel spacing and Flexgrid sub-channel spacing down to 35GHz.
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