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Driving optical network scale

Scale made simple

Optical networks are indispensable: they deliver the underlying network connectivity we rely on in all aspects of our daily lives.

While global network capacity has increased exponentially in the past decade, further expansion will be required to meet demand for the next generation of bandwidth-intensive services and applications. In today’s business environment, this next dimension of scale must be achieved with a view to sustainable growth and with close management of the overall total cost of operations. New optical technologies, network architectures, and operational models are some of the key elements needed to achieve success. However, navigating all of these elements can be very complex.

At Nokia, we are driving the evolution of optical networks. We are focused on building networks optimized to deliver now and are ready for tomorrow’s bandwidth demands. With our innovative optical technologies, advanced network automation platforms, and experienced team of optical networking professionals, we can help simplify the path to scaling your optical network for today and the future.

What are the enabling roles of optical networks?  

Optical networks provide the most scalable and economical means of transferring massive amounts of data over large distances – between data centers; across neighborhoods, cities and countries; and between continents.    

No matter the access method used – radio or microwave signal, copper or coax cable, or fiber optics –  user data must reach its ultimate destination, and optical networks provide the connectivity to achieve this without constraints on bandwidth or distance.

Enabled by the invention of optical amplifiers and wavelength division multiplexing, today’s optical networks transmit multiple high-speed data streams, each operating at different wavelengths, through optical fiber cables over distances spanning hundreds of meters to thousands of kilometers.  

These continuous advances in optical networking and the resulting network scaling have enabled services such as content streaming, mobile video, remote work and cloud-based applications which have become ubiquitous today.


Scale made simple mission statement


What challenges do network operators face?

New and emerging applications that require more and more bandwidth, such as artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, and virtual and augmented reality experiences (VR/AR) are driving the need for further massive scaling of network capacity over the next decade.    

This need for further scaling must accommodate new technologies that will continue to drive cost-effective increases in network capacity, and also provide meaningful solutions that reduce network complexity, simplify operations, and facilitate service delivery.  

The next phase of optical network scaling requires a focus on differentiated technology innovation, including capacity scaling of coherent optics and Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) spectrum, complemented by optical network automation to simplify network operations, and new architectures to help network operators efficiently deploy continued increases in network capacity.

How can optical networks achieve massive scale?  

Achieving the massive scale needed to deliver next-generation applications and services requires new approaches which complement capacity scaling with network simplification. This allows network operators to simplify operations, launch new service offerings, and enable simpler, open architectures.  

Scale made simple enables the next phase of optical network scaling with a focus on differentiated technology innovation across all dimensions of optical network evolution.

How to scale optical network capacity  

Optical networks have enabled a massive increase in networked traffic through ongoing innovation and progress in two key areas:


Stay ahead of bandwidth demands


Optical networks transmit high-speed data flows over multiple wavelengths, with the objective of delivering more scale by transmitting data at ever-greater speeds, and over ever-longer distances. Whether measured as bits per second (b/s), spectral efficiency (b/s/Hz), or capacity-reach (b/s-km), transmission speeds have seen massive scaling through the introduction and refinement of coherent optics technology. This has led to exponential increases in wavelength speeds from 40Gb/s to 800Gb/s, and has increased all-optical transmission reach from hundreds of kilometers to tens of thousands of kilometers. Nokia's latest generation of super-coherent optics, the PSE-6s, drives wavelength speeds to 1.2 Terabits per second (Tb/s) and ushers in new frontiers in network scale, performance and sustainability.


WDM technology allows the transmission of multiple data streams in parallel, across many individual wavelengths of light, spread across the optical fiber transmission spectrum.  This has enabled network operators to massively scale their network bandwidth, while amortizing the high cost of deploying optical fiber over many channels and corresponding revenue streams. While WDM optical line systems a decade ago typically supported 40 to 80 wavelengths in the C-band spectrum, many of today’s optical networks operate over the C and L bands, more than doubling the total fiber spectrum and its data-carrying capacity.  Future innovations in fiber and cable technology will further increase total network capacity.

Leveraging these technological innovations to drive continuous reductions in “cost per bit” or “power per bit” has led to increased adoption of networked applications in all aspects of daily life and business.    

Nokia has enabled massive scaling of optical networks through a focused investment across these key solutions areas. Learn more about Nokia’s solutions for enabling scaling of today’s networks

How to simplify optical networks to enable scale  

As optical networks continue to grow in scope and capacity, simplifying network operations is critical.  To achieve this, network operators can take advantage of innovations in optical network automation and adopt new network architectures.

Optical network automation

In order to scale networks efficiently, network operators must also reduce network complexity, simplify operations, and deploy new services.  By leveraging Bell Labs research in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), network operators can deploy customizable automation applications supporting a wide range of optical network use cases. They can also automate optical network analytics and monitoring, engage corrective actions and reconfiguration, or accelerate and simplify service creation and activation.  

New architectures

Evolving network architectures can provide lower TCO for network operators in existing and greenfield networks. These include the adoption of open optical network platforms and standardized, model-driven interfaces, as well as simpler, more efficient converged IP-optical network architectures. These new architectures enable differentiated features and deliver value across all types of applications and services, business models, and network scope.

Optical network automation, open optical networking and new network architectures can help network operators scale their networks while reducing TCO through simpler networks.  Learn more about Nokia’s solutions for simplifying future networks.

Enabling Scale made simple

At Nokia, our ability to scale and simplify networks is made possible by our unique capability to serve the wide range of network applications and network operator types, however large or small. Our broad range of professional services provides the support of our experienced teams to help our customers implement efficient networks with global scale.    

Follow Nokia as we continue to inspire the limits of what is possible to enable Scale made simple.

Discover Nokia’s optical solutions

Visit our Optical Networks portfolio page to discover how to enable efficiently scale your network from edge to core, while simplifying network operations and architectures.  Spanning market-leading and application-optimized solutions for coherent optics, WDM line systems, and P-OTN platforms, complemented by network automation capabilities, we provide the tools needed to allow your networks to support the surging demand of always-on connectivity and ever-more bandwidth-intensive applications.

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