Guest Blog: SubOptic 2016 – A New Wave of Next-gen Transport Technologies Shaping the Submarine Networks of the Future

May 09, 2016

Larry Schwartz SeabornBy Larry W. Schwartz

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Seaborn Networks

Dubai, one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan cities, was buzzing recently with telecommunications experts during the SubOptic 2016 conference. For all of us at Seaborn Networks, SubOptic was a momentous occasion as we showcased our state-of-the-art Seabras-1 cable between New York and São Paulo.

Seaborn is transforming global communications as the preeminent developer of submarine cable systems with an independent cable operator model. Seabras-1 is the first-ever direct fiber optic cable between the financial and commercial centers of Brazil and the United States. With a current maximum design capacity of 72 terabits per second (Tb/s), the system also has multiple branching units for future expansion throughout North and South America.

SubOptic provided an excellent forum for submarine network operators like us and vendors like Infinera to promote solutions, foster debate, exchange ideas and act as educational resources for the entire submarine telecommunications industry. Infinera has recently announced their multi-terabit Infinite Capacity Engine, and the more I learn about it the more I am convinced that this new optical engine and the array of new technologies enabled by it will play a crucial role in shaping future submarine networks.

In its quest to satisfy the ever-growing demand for high-capacity bandwidth, the transport industry is moving toward flexible grid architecture while deploying super-channel technology. High-capacity bandwidth is important for subsea cable communications. In conjunction with Infinera, today we have 500 gigabit per second (Gb/s) FlexGrid super-channel solutions on a single line card. Infinera’s new Infinite Capacity Engine enables multi-terabit super-channels.

The true metric for fiber capacity in subsea applications is the capacity-reach product. Submarine network operators always seek to regenerate only when required. The advanced coherent techniques enabled by Infinera’s new Infinite Capacity Engine, featuring the Advanced Coherent Toolkit (ACT), claim to have up to 60 percent better capacity-reach performance for submarine and terrestrial networks than the current generation of optical technologies. The engine allows extended reach and/or utilization of higher order modulation formats on a per-channel or super-channel basis in challenging fiber environments. One specific technique contained in ACT is very interesting: Nyquist subcarriers. This new technology increases tolerance for non-linear effects by synthesizing each optical carrier into multiple subcarriers that are closely spaced to each other. Also, the new subsea-specific modulation of matrix-enhanced phase-shift keying (ME-PSK) provides the same spectral efficiency as binary phase-shift keying (BPSK) but with increased reach and performance of channels at a lower optical signal-to-noise ratio (OSNR) than BPSK.

In addition to driving for the high reach-capacity product, there is often a need to deploy submarine networks with a cash flow-efficient business model. Operators should be able to deploy additional capacity instantly when demand arises. Infinera’s Instant Bandwidth helps activate bandwidth in 100G increments with just one click of a mouse. This not only creates a success-based business model, but the pre-deployed bandwidth waiting for activation dramatically speeds up provisioning of incremental capacity, and as a result avoids weeks or even months of truck rolls and installation delays.

Seaborn Networks is committed to changing the way submarine cable capacity is bought and sold by introducing the industry’s first carrier-neutral business model. This new “pay-as-you-grow” business model is an enabler for purchasers of submarine cable capacity: content providers, carriers, governments and Internet service providers (ISPs).

In the past decade, customer base, buying decisions, capacity needs and route priorities have evolved. Large content providers are now looking to disintermediate carriers and buy large quantities of wholesale capacity directly. In addition, content providers often forecast their capacity needs at rates in excess of overall market growth rates. Governments around the world are adopting national broadband plans in recognition that increased competition in the submarine cable sector plays a key role in reducing broadband costs, thereby increasing broadband penetration. Our consortium-like pricing works by enabling dramatic economies of scale on some of the fastest-growing primary routes in the world. In addition, we fully embrace the objectives of government-sponsored national broadband plans and we recognize that these programs, together with an independent cable operator model for new-build subsea systems, can help to drive affordable broadband penetration which, in turn, helps to increase gross domestic product (GDP) in those markets. In short, Seaborn’s flexible business model enables greater private funding of infrastructure projects for the public good.

SubOptic was a great opportunity for the submarine industry to gather in Dubai and reflect on new technologies like Infinera’s Infinite Capacity Engine and plan projects for the next several years. Seaborn’s flexible business model is enabling greater private funding of infrastructure projects for the public good.

Legal Disclaimer

This guest blog was written by Larry W. Schwartz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Seaborn Networks. Infinera thanks him for his contribution.

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