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BT and Alcatel-Lucent Record Real-World Fibre Optic Speed of 1.4Tbps In the UK

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the zipping-it-along dept.

Networking 70

Mark.JUK writes "The United Kingdom's national telecoms operator, BT, has successfully teamed up with Alcatel-Lucent to conduct a field trial that delivered real-world data speeds of 1.4 Terabits per second over an existing commercial-grade 410km fiber optic link. The trial used a 'record spectral efficiency' of 5.7 bits per second per Hertz and Flexgrid technology to vary the gaps between transmission channels for 42.5% greater data transmission efficiency than today's standard networks. The speed was achieved by overlaying an 'Alien Super Channel' (i.e. it operates transparently on top of BT's existing optical network), which bundled together 7 x 200Gbps (Gigabits per second) channels and then reduced the 'spectral spacing' between the channels from 50GHz to 35GHz using the 400Gb/s Photonic Services Engine (PSE) technology on the 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS). It's hoped that this could help boost capacity to those who need it without needing to lay expensive new fiber cables."

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70 comments

DSL.. (-1, Redundant)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 6 months ago | (#46025359)

> "It's hoped that this could help boost capacity to those who need it without needing to lay expensive new fiber cables."

So it's basically the fiber form of DSL.

Re:DSL.. (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 6 months ago | (#46025659)

Yeah, except it takes a blazingly fast line and makes it even faster. At this level of aggregation no single customer is going to notice much, you rarely hear people who have a big last mile pipe complain about the backbone speed. Nice to see the backbone keeping up with FTTH and such, but really the main issue is that fiber is still for the few. Or to turn on gloat mode, I'm not sure what's behind my 100Mbps pipe but it seems pretty damn fast to me.

Re:DSL.. (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46026447)

you rarely hear people who have a big last mile pipe complain about the backbone speed.

Let's say it's Sunday evening and Netflix is getting choppy. How would you even know if the problem is the last mile or backbone?

Re:DSL.. (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 6 months ago | (#46026703)

Trace route or pathping?

Re:DSL.. (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46027563)

I don't think they're effective for that purpose, at least not any more. The actual structure of a network within each ASN is obscured (for network security and business propriety). And latency may well depend on the content of an individual packet, where it's to/from, whether it's part of a stream, etc due to traffic shaping.

Re:DSL.. (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 6 months ago | (#46027835)

Most ISP don't actually shape Netflix, they use DNS to send you to a different server to alter your route. Shaping can happen, but you find it more in ISPs that have 1mb DSL, not 100mb cable. It gets really hard to shape large numbers of people with fast connections. If they are shaping, not much you can do. My ISP does not shape or QoS, so tracert and pathping work fine.

Re:DSL.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46028423)

The actual structure of a network within each ASN is obscured

Edges are usually fairly obvious, so you can at least tell which ASN the problem lies.

Re:DSL.. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46034505)

I had this problem for about a year with Virgin Media. Turned out to be their Content Delivery Network, i.e. the caching servers inside their network. Blocking them at the router level fixed the problem.

Re:DSL.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46027673)

Behind your 100Mbps pipe comes my 100Mbps tap, then more pipe.

Re:DSL.. (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 6 months ago | (#46029551)

I hear plenty of people complaining that their real world throughput at peak times is much lower than their sync speed. That means that either the servers or some part of the network between the user and the server is overloaded.

Re:DSL.. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46034521)

Pffft... 100Mbps? My PHONE gets 150Mbps in both directions. Home broadband is 1000Mbps over fibre.

My ex had 100Mbps fibre back in 2003, for about 23 quid a month. It was more common back then than it is in the UK now. We are over a decade behind thanks to BT.

http://i.imgur.com/9dZfFQk.jpg [imgur.com]

Re:DSL.. (1, Interesting)

amorsen (7485) | about 6 months ago | (#46025795)

Yes, modern fiber is becoming very DSL-like, with many sub-carriers and advanced encodings for each carrier. Unfortunately the power requirements are fairly high.

Re:DSL.. (4, Informative)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#46026623)

The difference is that DSL is running data over old Cat 3 voice grade lines, and there is a clear technological benefit to moving to an alternative media for distribution. The reason is noise: Cat 3 was never designed to reject it. Coax, Cat 5, and other wire types were specifically engineered to help reject noise at different frequencies. And the better the category of wire, the better the throughput.

Fiber doesn't generally have that same kind of problems (unless you foolishly installed cheap plastic optical fibers.) There isn't a special "greased lightning fiber" people can turn to that carries more data. Instead, advances in lasers, optics, and encoding technologies are used to increase throughput by replacing the transmitters and receivers.

In general, if you need more throughput in a fiber environment than commercially available transmitters can produce, your only choice is to pull more fibers. Whereas in DSL-land if you need more throughput, the rational choice is to abandon the technology completely and move to a different media.

Re:DSL.. (5, Funny)

necro81 (917438) | about 6 months ago | (#46027283)

Fiber doesn't generally have that same kind of problems (unless you foolishly installed cheap plastic optical fibers.) There isn't a special "greased lightning fiber" people can turn to that carries more data.

Speak for yourself - I just picked up a $5000 S/PDIF cable from Monster Cable that moves those bits so much faster than any other cable on the market. When you hear the results, you can just tell that the 1's and 0's have so much more definition and crispness than ordinary commodity cables.

Re:DSL.. (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 6 months ago | (#46027843)

Monster cables, making sure the super-position of your photons are kept pristine.

Re:DSL.. (4, Funny)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#46027951)

Fiber doesn't generally have that same kind of problems (unless you foolishly installed cheap plastic optical fibers.) There isn't a special "greased lightning fiber" people can turn to that carries more data.

Speak for yourself - I just picked up a $5000 S/PDIF cable from Monster Cable that moves those bits so much faster than any other cable on the market. When you hear the results, you can just tell that the 1's and 0's have so much more definition and crispness than ordinary commodity cables.

I hate to disappoint you, Skippy, but that's just regular optical fiber that's been SpeedWaxed. You still need to buy a tube of Denon Optical Fiber SpeedWax and coat the fibers monthly. Otherwise, the ones tend to get a bit fat, and the zeros get a little skinny. Without it, the highs will have a pronounced distortion on the even harmonics, and the phrenological ephemera will subluxate the transception. Oh, and don't forget to get their Shielded optical cable, specifically designed to reject RF interference. Get the one with gold plated connectors to ensure rich bass.

Re:DSL.. (1)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#46030127)

Lest you think I was kidding about shielded fiber cable with gold plated connectors: http://www.amazon.com/Cable-Ma... [amazon.com]

But it's only $8.99, so it's kind of difficult to mock it mercilessly.

Re:DSL.. (2)

gregski (765387) | about 6 months ago | (#46028765)

Although noise rejection isn't normally an issue, different fibres do have different bandwidths:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

and then there's the hollow fibre mentioned in the article, which achieved 73.7 Tb/s!

Re:DSL.. (1)

InvalidError (771317) | about 6 months ago | (#46028821)

There are multiple different types of optical fibers out there and not all of them are suitable for DWDM, polarization and various other schemes... so "greased lightning" fiber does exist if you compare fiber from ~30 years ago with state-of-the-art specialty fiber.

As for fiber not having the same problems as DSL, most of the electromagnetic stuff that applies to DSL also applies to fiber; just on such drastically different scales that they become negligible in most cases.

Re:DSL.. (1)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#46030085)

That's why I qualified my comment with "generally". Figures I'd get caught :-)

please report in standard units (4, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | about 6 months ago | (#46025441)

That's about 875 micro-library-of-congresses per second, assuming 600 dpi [loc.gov] LOC digitization. Getting close to breaking the coveted milli-LOC/s barrier!

Re:please report in standard units (1)

Ashenkase (2008188) | about 6 months ago | (#46025585)

Ya, but how many football fields is that?

Re:please report in standard units (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 6 months ago | (#46025757)

Everyone who uses standard units knows it's just over 1 kLOC/fortnight, don't go all SI on us.

Re:please report in standard units (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46026477)

Let's see, the summary contains: 1) the bit rate 2) the link length 3) the bit rate per Hz and 4) the percentage improvement over what they were using before.

What is it you're complaining about, exactly? Or is this just a pavlovian response to any story about bandwidth?

Re:please report in standard units (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 6 months ago | (#46027741)

While the summary contains all that, GP's comment additionally contains the "joke", while your comment contains some "miss", qualifying it "whoosh".

It could reach more speed... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46025469)

... but they need data to be copied to the NSA cable.

Kick us when we're down, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46025523)

It'll be about the year 2100 before the UK population even sees that.

Most people are still on dial-up.

Re:Kick us when we're down, eh? (1)

abies (607076) | about 6 months ago | (#46026059)

Quotation needed.
BTW, most people are on GPRS/3G/whatever - but you probably meant 'landline' type of connectivity. I really doubt that there are more people using dialup compared to low-speed DSL (1-2Mb range).

Re:Kick us when we're down, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031149)

Quotation needed.
BTW, most people are on GPRS/3G/whatever - but you probably meant 'landline' type of connectivity. I really doubt that there are more people using dialup compared to low-speed DSL (1-2Mb range).

"Most people are still on dial-up." -Anonymous Coward

There you go, Quotation provided.

Eugene (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about 6 months ago | (#46025527)

Did Gene Roddenberry get the naming rights to all of the equipment ?

co3k (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46025651)

operatiNg 5ystems

Just wait.. (4, Insightful)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 6 months ago | (#46025695)

Just you wait, they'll raise all speeds to that, but then slap a datacap of 500MB on it.

Re:Just wait.. (1)

ketomax (2859503) | about 6 months ago | (#46025877)

Do not worry my friend. Lots of other joint experiments are going on by companies to take it beyond the ever-elusive GB barrier.

Re:Just wait.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46026249)

Datacap? Hell, I cant even buy fiber to the home....

Re:Just wait.. (2)

Philip Mather (2889417) | about 6 months ago | (#46026295)

No, no, no this is BRITISH Telecom. One of their engineers will draw up perfectly feasible and realisable plans for an even better version, management however won't be interested and so the plans will be left in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'. In the meantime some foreign competitor will eventually come to the same level fives years later and proceed to patent it six ways from Sunday and make £500 bazzilion from it.

Re:Just wait.. (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | about 6 months ago | (#46027047)

Or worse block a big pile of the internet as they do in UK, you know to protect the children (you wouldn't want them pirating Myley Cirus...)

Re:Just wait.. (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | about 6 months ago | (#46027057)

What the article doesn't mention: 1.4 tbs down, 10mbs up

Re:Just wait.. (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 6 months ago | (#46027763)

good lord, are you serious?!

Re:Just wait.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46027211)

500MB, pffft. I read about ISPs offering 10GB caps, yet I get almost 5GB/month worth of broadcast packets to FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF coming from other customers. Mix of DHCP and ARC. I guess that's what you get when your ISP uses 1gb fiber Ethernet to connect everyone in a several mile radius. Woe is me with 5.5us line latency. My internet went down once in the past year, it was a harrowing experience that last almost 3 minutes around 2am! Had to call my 24/7 tech support, I had to wait almost 3 rings to talk to someone to find out why my residential line had 3 minutes of down time in the past 10 months! I was furious and so was my wife. We were trying to play video games!

I'm glad I live in the USA instead of Australia, but these -20f temps suck. Canada, take back your weather please! Ohh FreeBSD 10 is out, time to seed a few more Terabytes of data this month. Stupid $70 bill. I can't afford this crap. The good news is my house no longer has COAX being used. All ethernet, even the TV boxes. IPTV from my ISP ftw!

Yes, I have a lot of sarcasm going on. The rest of the USA is mostly a @#$%hole for Internet. I don't think I could stand moving away from my current town because I am addicted to fiber.

Re:Just wait.. (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 6 months ago | (#46029889)

What's a datacap?

free the innocent stem cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46025725)

hard to get a wwword in dspite the blazing speed

censorship works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46025775)

annoying is an understatement never a better time to consider ourselves in relation to honest creation aka momkind

What is the cost (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about 6 months ago | (#46025727)

, in LOCRiDS ( Library Of Congress Replacement Cost in DollarS ) , of one of those to my doorstep ?

All the better to spy on you with... (1)

bulled (956533) | about 6 months ago | (#46025741)

The GHCQ and NSA thank you for filling their files faster.

units . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46025873)

Spectral efficiency is weird:
        5.7 bits / s / Hz
= 5.7 bits / s / (1/s)
= 5.7 bits / s^2
= 5.7 bits per square second.

So what is a square second?

Re:units . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46025951)

First of all, you use meters per second squared all the dang time. Second of all, a bit / s / (1/s) cancels the seconds, not squares them. The end unit is just "bits".

Re:units . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46025969)

Where did you learn math? Fox news?

Re:units . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46026285)

What is this, third grade? Dividing by a fraction = multiplying by that fraction's inverse. "per Hertz" is equivalent to "multiplied by seconds".

(bit)/(s)/(Hz)
= (bit)/(Hz)/(s)
= (bit)*(s)/(s)
= (bit)

Re:units . . . (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 6 months ago | (#46027831)

while the end result is correct, this doesn't seem right:

(bit)/(s)/(Hz) = (bit)/(Hz)/(s)

Re:units . . . (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | about 6 months ago | (#46028479)

You've forgotten that the Hz represents cycles/s, not just 1/s. Hence their so-called "spectral efficiency" is 5.7 bits/cycle. The problem of course is that the article does not address the SNR nor the BER that it took them to get that 5.7 result. If you need cryo-tech photodetectors and massive FEC to get that result, it's less impressive than doing it with the existing kit and minor data redundancy.

Re:units . . . (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 6 months ago | (#46028657)

No, [Hz] = [1/s]. Or put differently, the 'cycles' you mention is unity

terabit and hertz should be lowercase (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46025997)

"real-world data speeds of 1.4 Terabits per second"
"5.7 bits per second per Hertz"

Minor point, but terabit and hertz should be lowercase there.

Here are some examples of correct spellings:

100 Tb (uppercase, tera prefix symbol)
100 terabit (lowercase, tera spelled in full)
100 Hz (uppercase, because unit is named after a person)
100 hertz (lowercase when unit is spelled in full)
100 gigahertz
100 GHz
100 terahertz
100 THz

The frequency unit hertz (lowercase) is named after the person Hertz (uppercase).

Similarly for other units named after people:
100 watt
100 W
100 megawatt
100 MW
100 pascal
100 Pa
100 kilopascal
100 kPa
100 megapascal
100 MPa

To him who hath... (1)

axlash (960838) | about 6 months ago | (#46026101)

If only they could have such speeds over wireless connections...

I can't see people who live in areas that are hard for cable to reach benefitting much from this.

Re:To him who hath... (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 6 months ago | (#46026677)

That 2% of the population? Who cares? They know what they're giving up living in the middle of a 1000 acre forest. for the rest of a nation, even farmers, this is not an issue.

Shame no-one in the UK will be able to benefit (1)

simplypeachy (706253) | about 6 months ago | (#46026253)

Once the government has finished fucking up [thinkbroadband.com] our Internet access completely.

Storage capacity (5, Interesting)

StripedCow (776465) | about 6 months ago | (#46026415)

real-world data speeds of 1.4 Terabits per second over an existing commercial-grade 410km fiber optic link.

Meaning the link can store only 1.4 Tb/s * 410km / c = 239 MB. (Where c is the speed of light in the fiber link).

Bah, that's nothing.

Re:Storage capacity (2)

Bengie (1121981) | about 6 months ago | (#46027399)

There is a 16tb/s connection that has a 680km range available right now and a 1tb/s link that was tested to have a 13,000km range and should be ready for real world soon. Those two have slightly better storage capacity. There is also the 1pb/s connect with 56km range, but that uses a special new type of fiber that is much more expensive and both will take a while to see real-world use.

Re:Storage capacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46027793)

I suspect you're using an optimistically high c, I think it should be closer to 200000km/s, yielding 287MB.

Re:Storage capacity (1)

ballpoint (192660) | about 6 months ago | (#46030259)

There may be applications for that kind of storage with a unique capacity/throughput/latency combination.

But in the real world...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46026675)

I would be happy if BT could give me the off peak speed I can get during the night of 73Mb/s during peak times where it drops to 8 - 10 Mb/s.

Re:But in the real world...... (1)

isorox (205688) | about 6 months ago | (#46030719)

I would be happy if BT could give me the off peak speed I can get during the night of 73Mb/s during peak times where it drops to 8 - 10 Mb/s.

Well as your copper from your house to the cabinet can do 73mbit, increasing bandwidth on the second-to-last mile from cabinet to linx is the only solution.

Fortunately thats exactly what this technology promises.

Re:But in the real world...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031289)

I would be happy if BT could give me the off peak speed I can get during the night of 73Mb/s during peak times where it drops to 8 - 10 Mb/s.

So pay for a dedicated bandwidth connection. I'm getting tired of people paying for an "all you can eat buffet" and then bitching that there's a long line at 5pm and some fat guy ate all the steak. If you want your own booth and waiter, then pay for it. The only reason you can get 100meg internet under $1,000 a month is because you're sharing it with other people, and guess why we call it "peak use time"? Because that's when usage is at its peak.

Re:But in the real world...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46036949)

And BT's advertising blurb says 'We'll never slow you down, even at peak time'.

Sounds like something out of Star Trek.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46027357)

Sounds like something out of Star Trek. Not the technology, the naming. "Alien Super Channel", "Photonic Service Switch", really? Technobabble at its finest.

What about NSA tap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46027537)

Can spy on that amount of data?

Where would we be without the Africans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46028185)

... who invented all of this...

Oh, wait...

Maxmimum bandwidth (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 6 months ago | (#46032195)

Wikipedia says the record on an optic fiber is 101 Tbps [wikipedia.org] . How is this better?

Re:Maxmimum bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46033163)

That 101-Tbps record was only over 160 km, and especially using 370 wavelengths on a dedicated fiber. This announcement uses a single wavelength (the "alien superchannel") over 400 km of fiber already in use, that supported a number of 40- and 100-Gbps channels alongside this one.

Re:Maxmimum bandwidth (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46033467)

It was done on an existing commercial grade fiber. No need to lay new fiber.

and I still f***ing get 2Mbits on my BT ADSL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46033841)

stuff that up BT

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