WindstreamWindstream said today that it is deploying equipment that will support speeds of 500 Gbps over DWDM super-channels in its long-haul network. The equipment is the Infinera DTN-X optical networking platform.

Carrier long-haul networks typically operate at speeds no greater than 100 Gbps. “This is very much a state-of-the-art system,” says Windstream Chief Technology Officer Randy Nicklas in a video embedded in today’s announcement.

Windstream said it will use the 500 Gbps network to support 100 Gbps wavelength services for customers and to support its own IP/MPLS network.

A super-channel operates as a single logical connection but is comprised of multiple wavelengths. That’s a departure from traditional carrier-grade optical networking equipment that uses a single wavelength per connection.

Infinera’s equipment uses 10 wavelengths to create a 500 Gbps super-channel, an Infinera spokesman  told Telecompetitor today.

Infinera is one of several manufacturers – including Alcatel-Lucent and others – that offer optical networking equipment that can support speeds above 100 Gbps. In addition to requiring multiple wavelengths, some of this equipment does not operate over the same distances as traditional optical equipment. Instead network operators may have to add more regeneration points or use the equipment only for shorter-distance connections.

When asked whether the equipment used in Windstream’s deployment has such limitations, the Infinera  spokesman said the equipment uses standard amplifier spacing and has covered distances as great as 9,000 kilometers (km).

He added that the system can use a different modulation technique for shorter distances (up to 4,500 km), thereby doubling spectral efficiency. Customers, he said, can “program in the most effective coherent modulation to help them close a given link with the highest capacity using the same line card.”

This approach, he said, “reduces spares management complexity.”

As for why a network operator would want to use a single 500 Gbps connection rather than five 100 Gbps connections, the Infinera spokesman said “the advantage is operational simplicity which translates to lower operational costs.”

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