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BT tests 800 Gigabit fibre optic network backbone upgrade

BT has been test driving fibre-optic network technology which can shift the contents of seven Blu-ray HD discs in one second over hundreds of kilometres.

BT and network specialists Ciena ran the 800Gbps test on a fibre link from BT’s Adastral Park R&D Centre Ipswich to BT Tower in London.

The Ciena WaveLogic 3 fibre-optic transceivers were also able to use a High Polarization Mode Dispersion fibre link, which wasn’t previously good enough for even a 10Gbps connections.

BT tests 800 Gigabit fibre optic network backbone upgrade
There’ll be fireworks when BT goes to 800Gbps full time

Neil J. McRae, chief network architect at BT, said: “BT has always been a pioneer in the field of networking, and we can trace our roots back to the very first national telecommunications undertaking in the world – The Electric Telegraph Company. 

Since then, and with the recent explosion in global connectivity, we have constantly looked for new ways to future proof our infrastructure and provide more bandwidth for the next generation of applications and services. 

“These trials prove that we’re heading in the right direction, and we’re very proud of our role in this latest milestone in the history of communications.”

The tests stepped up speeds through 100Gbps, 200Gbps, 400Gbps and finally 800Gbps using a ‘super channel’, which combines several optical carriers together to create a single manageable wavelength.

The links were run using 16QAM modulation, which packs in twice as much data as the QPSK modulation used for the current version of BT’s national 21CN backbone network.

BT tests 800 Gigabit fibre optic network backbone upgrade
A 16QAM link has twice the capacity of QPSK at the same frequency

A 400Gbps link in 16QAM was also sent along the same fibre as 40Gbps and 100Gbps signals using QPSK at different wavelengths, showing how the new services can be added without switching off old ones.

BT has been using Ciena’s networking equipment since 2003, using WaveLogic optical transceivers to deploy the 21CN network at 40Gbps and 100Gbps.

In January this year, they launched a joint programme to research and develop new applications and capabilities on BT’s next generation network.

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