Telstra expands optical network capacity by 400%

Telstra expands optical network capacity by 400%

Through a collaboration with Ericsson and Ciena

Credit: 153185047 © Bundit Minramun

Telstra has gone live with a network capacity upgrade quadrupling the speed in its optical transmission network between data centres over a year.

The telco worked with 5G service vendor Ericsson and telco networking equipment and software services supplier Ciena to deliver speeds between its data centres of up to 400 Gbps over 61.5 GHz spectrum and up to 30.4 Tbps in total bandwidth on a single fibre pair.

By comparison, the network was offering speeds of up to 100 Gbps a year ago.

According to a statement by the three companies, the technology allows Telstra to offer high capacity to customers in a shorter period of time, as well as being able to quickly scale the transmission network for future usage.

Additionally, tests in August saw the telco’s live network reach speeds of 800 Gbps between data centres over 112.5 GHz spectrum, as well as 700 Gbps between Melbourne and Sydney.

The upgrade to 400 Gbps has been undergoing tests since at least January 2018, with Ciena claiming at the time that this was “the highest spectral efficiency per fibre pair ever achieved in a live environment”. 

Chris Meissner, transport, IP core and edge engineering executive at Telstra, said the upgrade allows the telco to deliver services to customers at scale without fibre builds, bringing down the time to market from weeks to days.

He added in a blog post that this upgrade was always going to be coming as part of Telstra’s networks for the future program, but deployment was “rapidly accelerated” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emilio Romeo, head of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand, said the upgrade was an important step towards meeting “unprecedented capacity demands”.

“This critical infrastructure capability forms the foundation of Telstra’s current and future network requirements and ensures Telstra can achieve transmission cost efficiencies and scale to meet the traffic demands that come with media rich and next generation services including 5G and edge compute services,” he said. 

“This latest industry milestone will ensure that Australia remains at the cutting-edge of telecommunications technology.”

This is the latest example of Telstra and Ericsson working together, with the pair of companies claiming on 24 September that they broke a network speed record with peak download speeds of 4.2 Gbps on a 5G mmWave data call.

That record was achieved on its commercial network at the Telstra 5G Innovation Centre in Queensland with a mobile test platform, an Ericsson Radio System base station, Ericsson’s network software and Ericsson core network, combining eight 100 MHz channels with 2x2 MIMO and 64QAM technologies.

According to Nikos Katinakis, group head of networks and IT at Telstra, this represented a doubling of previous capacity and speeds.

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