Alcatel-Lucent breaks new world record for undersea data transmission

Alcatel-Lucent has broken a new record for the amount of data that can be transmitted over transoceanic distances on a single optical fibre.

In a test carried out at Alcatel-Lucent’s Innovation City campus in Villarceaux near Paris, researchers from Bell Labs successfully sent data at speeds of 31 Terabits-per-second (Tbps) over 7200km – a capacity exceeding that of the most advanced commercial undersea cables today by a factor of three. This was achieved with a span – the distance between amplifiers maintaining the entire length – of 100km.

The researchers were able to achieve the highest-ever capacity for undersea data transmission on a single fibre. The experiment leveraged Bell Labs’ pioneering work in 200 Gigabit per second (Gbps) single-carrier data channels*. At such speeds and distances signal distortions and noise make data recovery very challenging. To counter this problem, in this new test Bell Labs researchers made use of innovative detection techniques and harnessed an array of technologies in modulation, transmission, and signal processing twinned with advanced error correcting coding.

The experiment used 155 lasers, each operating at a different frequency and carrying 200 Gbit/s over a 50 GHz frequency grid to dramatically enhance the performance of current WDM (Wavelength Division Multiplexing) systems, which are today being deployed with speeds up to 100G.

Details of the experiment were presented in a post-deadline paper presented earlier this month at Opto-Electronic Communication Conference (OECC) conference in Japan. This record is the latest in a long series of two dozen records over the past 15 years, all showcasing breakthroughs by Alcatel-Lucent that have transformed long distance data transmission. Among them is the invention of Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM), the introduction of non-zero dispersion fibre and single-carrier coherent detection.

Philippe Keryer, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer of Alcatel-Lucent said: “Undersea fibre-optic transmission is integral to the digital economy, delivering vast amounts of video and data between countries, regions and continents.

As our customers cope with increasing demand on their networks for data capacity and higher-speeds of transmission, our researchers are intensifying their application with tests like this to develop new technology solutions to transform global data networks. This underlines the strategic R&D focus we recently announced as part of The Shift Plan.”


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