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Mar 06 2018

We’ve just reshaped the future of optical networking

Pushing up against the Shannon Limit with the new PSE-3 chipset

As we’ve all noticed, the world’s appetite for bandwidth doesn’t  seem to have any end in sight. Having laid down huge amounts of unlit fiber over the last two decades, both terrestrial and submarine, our customers are quickly lighting it up. It is very hard for them to stay ahead of the demand curve and, with 5G just around the corner, they may find themselves playing catch-up in very short order.

It’s not just a question of capacity, either. The behavior of network traffic has changed radically . It’s becoming far less predictable, which means that our networks must be far more dynamic than they have been. This presents the optical transport layer with significant challenges – not only to dramatically increase capacity, but programmability as well. Lastly, reach must be maximized on-the-fly as link demands change.

While we have always pushed to achieve the ultimate in performance, we’ve also always known that there is a physical limit to how much data can be sent down a communications channel. It’s called the Shannon limit. Back in 1948, Bell Labs researcher Claude Shannon published a paper called “A Mathematical Theory of Communication”, which provided that theoretical limit. Since then, we’ve been pushing and pushing closer to the limit. But we needed a true breakthrough to get even closer.

Because every bit you generate eventually goes through an optical fiber

Our recently launched Photonic Service Engine 3 (PSE-3) coherent digital signal processor (DSP) chipset delivers that breakthrough for network operators. It is the first DSP to utilize probabilistic constellation shaping (PCS) to both maximize reach and capacity by getting very close to the Shannon limit, while simplifying operations and planning.

By intelligently shaping the signal to match the characteristics of the optical fiber, PCS generates wavelengths that are more resilient to noise and other impairments. That means we can:

  • increase capacity by up to 65% over currently deployed networks
  • reduce power per bit by 60%
  • deploy up to 35% fewer optical transponders
  • and, by recovering latent capacity in deployed fiber, extend the life of existing line systems and subsea cables 

We have also introduced radically simple programmability. The new chipset is the first truly programmable high-capacity transmission solution in the world. Customers can now dial bandwidth from 200G to 600G, in a very simplified and automated manner. This allows them to focus on using the optical network both to satisfy their internal needs as well as to generate new revenue and reduce operating expenses, simply because it is fully automated.  

Significant long-term savings and incredibly simple programmability mean our customers can now absolutely maximize the capacity of every link in their network – from 10 km to 10,000 km and beyond. They can be fastest, cheapest, and best at moving data.  Especially when the data coming at them is greater than ever imagined.

Others in the industry are also trying to take fiber to its limit, but they often compromise on capacity, distance, and automation. You need all of these -- without any compromises -- in order to handle what’s coming.  

I’m proud and excited about what the team has accomplished. We’re taking light to the limit, and the possibilities for the industry and for each of us will be endless.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #optical #5G

About Sam Bucci

Sam Bucci heads the Optical Networking Business Unit for Nokia’s IP/Optical Networks Business Group. Sam spends an inordinate amount of time on airplanes working with customers around the world. It is the insight he gains on his travels combined with his deep knowledge of photonic networks which makes him a recognized expert and visionary in the optical field.

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