Print 19 comment(s) - last by foolsgambit11.. on Mar 7 at 7:11 PM

Usable data rate is 400 Gbps, 4x current top speeds; should allow for supercharged smartphone networks

There are two major determinants of cellular data network speeds.  The first is the physical broadcast infrastructure, which takes into account factors such as number of towers, placement, type of spectrum, and amount of spectrum available.  The second major determinant is the physical network backbone -- typically fiber cable.  

Every signal that goes to or from your smartphone must be transmitted through a fiber backbone.  The faster that backbone is, the faster a carrier's services become, regardless of wireless transmission technology.

The "T-Labs" research group of T-Mobile USA's German parent Deutsche Telekom AG (ETR:DTE) made a splash this week, announcing [press release] that it had worked the kinks out of ultra fast fiber optic transmission, which travel at a theoretical data transfer speed of 512 Gbps (or "the simultaneous transmission of 77 music CDs" as T-Labs puts it).

Fiber Optics
Fiber optic communications just got much faster. [Image Source: AllPosters]

Real world performance isn't far behind.  Deutsche Telekom observed real world speeds of 400 Gbps during a 734 km round-trip along a single-optical fiber test channel running between Hanover and the capital city of Berlin.

400 Gbps is a pretty impressive figure, given that the current fastest deployed fiber networks run at around 100 Gbps, with most networks well behind that even.  T-Labs plans to bundle together 48 of the single channels into a bundle that will offer a combined throughput of around 18.75 Tbps (18,750,000,000,000 bit/s) (24.6 Tbps, theoretical).

Deutsche Telekom describes the breakthrough in terms that surely would rile the Recording Industry Association of America -- "A collection of 3,696 CDs could thus be transferred over a single optical fiber — a strand thinner than a human hair — at the same time."

The cutting edge research is part of the company's "Optically Supported IP Router Interfaces" (OSIRIS) project.

OSIRIS bench
"I was working in the lab, late one night..." [Image Source: T-Labs]

For the professional network and electrical engineers T-Mobile offers up some juicy techical tidbits:

The Telekom OSIRIS (Optically Supported IP Router Interfaces) research project realized transmission at a speed of 512 Gbit/s (400 Gbit/s usable bit rate) on a 100 GHz wavelength channel over a distance of 734 km, thus demonstrating a spectral sensitivity of 5 bits/s/Hz in the Deutsche Telekom network.
This tremendous transmission performance was reached using innovative transmission technology with two carrier frequencies, two polarization planes, 16-QAM quadrature amplitude modulation and digital offline signal processing for the equalization of fiber influences with soft-FEC forward error correction decoding in the receiver.

The WDM transmission link consisted of a total of 14 standard single-mode fiber sections with dispersion compensation as required for the neighboring conventional 10 Gbit/s channels.

The high optical input powers of the conventional 10 Gbit/s channels and the dispersion compensation in the fiber sections interfere with the innovative transmission technology due to nonlinearities, including self-phase modulation by the higher input power and cross-phase modulation by the adjacent channels. Despite these worst-case conditions, it was possible to demonstrate the transfer of the innovative high-speed signal simultaneously with conventional 10 Gbit/s signals in adjacent channels in an existing system.

So what’s the best part about the new technology? It requires no fiber replacement -- it merely requires new receivers/transmitters.  Deutsche Telekom's T-Labs believes that it is read for commercialization, once the technology is incorporated into the terminal equipment from network vendors like Sweden's Ericsson SpA (STO:ERIC B), China's Huawei,  France's Alcatel-Lucent (EPA:ALU), and Nokia Siemens (a joint venture between Finland's Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V) and Germany's Siemens AG (ETR:SIE)).

Source: T-Labs

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Verizon's New Dataplan?
By Arsynic on 3/6/2012 11:12:50 AM , Rating: 2
MegaData(TM) 2GB $89.99/month.

RE: Verizon's New Dataplan?
By quiksilvr on 3/6/2012 11:27:43 AM , Rating: 5
With T-Mobile's unlimited plan, after 2GB you will slow down from 400 Gbp/s to 1 Gbp/s.

RE: Verizon's New Dataplan?
By TSS on 3/6/2012 11:43:48 AM , Rating: 2
Should look at it from another perspective.

3,696 music CD's per second. the average Itunes album sells for 10 bucks. Meaning you can download nearly $37,000 worth of music every second. On a single fibre.

There's going to be 48 of those in a bundle, and god knows how many bundles spread throughout the world. And this isn't the end of optical technology - this'll be doubled or even tripled by the next decade, maybe even before that.

Digital stuff shouldn't cost any money. At all, for anything. Money will have to be made from associated stuff, like concerts or real-world merchandise. The only things i'll pay for concirning digital media is the PC, my (unlimited data a month, us dutch are a bit more spoiled in this regard)internet connection and the electricity to run it all.

yes i know that this tech will find it's way into backbones and not consumer houses, but i started out with "broadband" with 160kbits up and 2mbit down 12 years ago, and i'm now on 120mbit down and 10mbit up. That would mean 7200mbit down and 600mbit up in another 12 years.

Paying for data will only get more ludicrous as time goes on....

By Crazyeyeskillah on 3/6/2012 1:10:20 PM , Rating: 2
you are paying for the royalties and fees associated with the product. Same reason you are paying for games through steam or a service like netflix. You are not paying for the bandwidth it costs to send you that information, that is the smallest cost associated with the whole transaction.

You clearly have no concept of what you are talking about. There are people that only make money through digital transfers. Banking is an example. We will be fortunate if money can still be made from real world things in the future that are not electricity, hardware, and data access.

RE: Verizon's New Dataplan?
By Trisped on 3/6/2012 4:35:07 PM , Rating: 2
3,696 music CD's per second. the average Itunes album sells for 10 bucks. Meaning you can download nearly $37,000 worth of music every second. On a single fibre.

There's going to be 48 of those in a bundle...
The 3696 music CD's per second rate is with 48 fiber channels bundled together. A single channel is only 77 CD/s.

Also, wired internet connections usually are "unlimited data a month," or in other words, download as much as you can. It is usually the wireless connections which limit downloads.

RE: Verizon's New Dataplan?
By foolsgambit11 on 3/7/2012 7:11:50 PM , Rating: 2
Deutsche Telekom describes the breakthrough in terms that surely would rile the Recording Industry Association of America -- "A collection of 3,696 CDs could thus be transferred over a single optical fiber — a strand thinner than a human hair — at the same time."

To be fair, I could devise a method of transferring more CDs than that at the same time over even the slowest digital connection. Any reversible encoding that would combine the bits of every CD would work. They said nothing about the speed of transfer, only the concurrency....

I'm not sure about their math. 512Gbps, with a CD bitrate of 150KBps (1.2Mbps), results in over 400k CDs - but you'd have to transfer them over the length of the full CD. So.... 512Gbps, with a CD capacity of 650MB (5.2Gb) is only about 98 CDs. Maybe my math just sucks.

What is the need?
By bobsmith1492 on 3/6/2012 11:11:26 AM , Rating: 2
When running fiber, wouldn't they run a bundle of say 100 fibers? That would let them use up to 100 separate switches and push gobs of bandwidth, meaning this small 4x speedup wouldn't be necessary. Unless the cost of multiple fiber lines kept installers from running lots of lines together...

RE: What is the need?
By Jeff7181 on 3/6/2012 2:18:33 PM , Rating: 2
That's like saying why would you want a 2 TB hard drive when you can buy two 1 TB hard drives.

Well... because if 2 TB hard drives were around, I could buy two of them and have 4 TB.

A 400% increase in speed is not small by any means. This means I can run the same 100 strands of fiber and get 40 Tbps of bandwidth instead of 10 Tbps. Or I can run 25 strands of fiber and get the same 10 Tbps.

RE: What is the need?
By Fritzr on 3/6/2012 3:19:45 PM , Rating: 3
100 fibers @ 100 Mb/s is 10,000 Mb/s
100 fibers @ 400 Mb/s is 40,000 Mb/s

If the backhaul to the cell tower can now handle 10Mb/s then by swapping out the transceiver the the cell tower can handle 40Mb/s

In terms of people, equipment, community disruption and money, swapping the transceivers is much cheaper than running 3 additional strands of fiber for each existing strand in the infrastructure.

Routers and other support equipment to support the 4x bandwidth change remain the same whether the capacity of the fiber changes or the number of fibers change. The cost difference is solely in the cost of adding the new transceivers vs the cost of adding new fiber runs.

RE: What is the need?
By MGSsancho on 3/6/2012 3:52:43 PM , Rating: 2
Or possibly swap out a blade in the router chassis. These are not cheap but even at $100K each (making this up) it is still cheaper than pulling new fiber. The smart companies just pull huge bundles of fiber and light up each strand as needed.

By ViroMan on 3/6/2012 10:48:31 AM , Rating: 4
I can haz ALL porn in 2 mins?

RE: wow
By XZerg on 3/6/2012 3:11:47 PM , Rating: 4
nowadays pr0n gets created at a much faster rate than 400Gbps can support...

Transmitting is not routing
By Etsp on 3/6/2012 11:41:32 AM , Rating: 2
A couple of factual errors in the article:
First, they didn't just replace the receivers, but the transmitters as well. (Or transceivers if it's one unit that does both transmit and receive, but with this early technology I somewhat doubt that it's to that point)

Second, transmitting data over a fiber link is not routing data.
There is no indication that there was any routing of data involved. Just a transfer of data from point a to point b over 700+ km of fiber. There was no device involved that was making decisions of where to send packets at 512Gbps.

Routers can also be another major bottleneck in this scenario.

RE: Transmitting is not routing
By HrilL on 3/6/2012 12:09:56 PM , Rating: 2
Cisco makes routers that can handle up to 322Tbps of routed traffic. I think carrier class routers can handle this just fine.

The author definitely made some errors though as you said. This is just data transmission and not routing at all.

Other commenters also don't understand what is going on either. A fiber cable supports multiple channels. They did this test on the same cable as in the same strand of fiber that also had a 10Gbps transmission channel functioning. Different receivers look for different wave lengths of light or multiple but each set of a wavelength used as a different channel. You can get a better explanation here

By michaelklachko on 3/6/2012 7:29:54 PM , Rating: 2
It's 322 Tbps of aggregated throughput, which requires multichassis setup.
A single slot in the fastest Cisco router currently can handle max of 550 Gbps of aggregated throughput: 6 full-duplex 40Gbps ports, or 2 full-duplex 100Gbps ports on the same card.
So technically, yes, the best Cisco router could in theory handle a simplex data stream at 512 Gbps, but just barely.

Or, in boardroom terms....
By protosv on 3/6/2012 11:33:43 AM , Rating: 2
Deutsche Telekom describes the breakthrough in terms that surely would rile the Recording Industry Association of America -- "A collection of 3,696 CDs could thus be transferred over a single optical fiber — a strand thinner than a human hair — at the same time."

Or, as they put it in boardroom terms, "The customer's data cap of 2GB could theoretically be reached in 0.00512 seconds, thus enabling us to incur overage fees at an unprecedented rate." (I know, T-Mo only throttles you, but can you imagine what would have happened if ATT got their way? We could hit our caps on our expensive "unlimited" data plans like never before! Perhaps this is why they were so interested in them?)

RE: Or, in boardroom terms....
By Jeff7181 on 3/6/2012 2:20:37 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think you or I will see a 4X increase in bandwidth. I think what this means is the telco's will be able to service 4X as many customers on the same back haul.

Simultaneous CDs
By Jeremy87 on 3/6/2012 4:33:24 PM , Rating: 2
How is 512Gbit/s equal to 77 simultaneous CDs (1411.2 kbit/s times 77 ~ 109Mbit/s)
And the 3696 CDs later in the article is about 5Gbit/s.

RE: Simultaneous CDs
By SentientNZ on 3/7/2012 3:59:48 AM , Rating: 3
I think you'll find they are refering to transfering 77 CDs (not streaming 77 CDs) per second.

512Gbit = 64GB / 77 CDs = 850MB (99-min CD).

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