400G ZR+ successfully trialled over more than 1,000km

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Windstream Wholesale has completed a live network trial in which it successfully deployed 400Gb/s single-wavelength transmission over 1,027km across its long-haul network between Phoenix and Los Angeles. 

The trial comes following Windstream’s commitment to delivering gigabit-per-second broadband service to 2 million residential customers as part of an almost $2bn initiative. 

It was undertaken using 400G pluggable modules from Acacia Communications. The compact, low-power modules were designed to bring high-capacity optical connections to the network edge to deliver ultra-fast speeds to more end-users.

Windstream says that the trial set another industry milestone, by looping back the signal to achieve 300G transmission over 2,054km. This demonstrates that high-speed optical transmissions, such as 400G and 300G, can be deployed over high-performance fibre networks such as Windstream’s, using compact pluggable modules. 

Buddy Bayer, chief network officer at Windstream said: ‘This record-setting accomplishment is a gamechanger for optical networks going forward. Windstream is executing a well-crafted architectural strategy that embraces fundamental design principles of disaggregation, openness and flexibility. We expect to begin deploying ZR+ coherent pluggable modules in the second half of 2021, a technology that has applicability in as many as 80 per cent of our existing links.’

Benny Mikkelsen, founder and chief technology officer of Acacia Communications added: ‘Windstream has demonstrated that 400G pluggable coherent modules can support not only metro, but also regional and long-haul network applications. Built on highly scalable technology that offers benefits in cost, size and power, we are excited about the opportunities for these pluggables in service provider networks.’

With the pending acquisition of Acacia by Cisco now imminent, the companies believe the trend toward coherent technology and pluggable solutions could be accelerated. Bill Gartner, senior vice president of optics and optical at Cisco explained: ‘Windstream is one of the first network providers to leverage the full capability of 400G pluggable optics in data centre interconnect to metro and long-haul applications. With the emergence of 400G pluggable DWDM optics, we will be able to simplify network design and operations.’

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