UK incumbent trials hollow core fibre

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UK incumbent operator, BT has begun trials of hollow core fibre in collaboration with start-up and Southampton University spin out, Lumenisity, and Open-RAN mobile vendor Mavenir.

This type of network cable has a hollow, air filled centre that runs the entire length of the cable. BT’s researchers are conducting the trials at the firm’s research and engineering campus, BT Labs, using a 10km-long hollow core fibre cable provided by Lumenisity. 

It will be used to test a variety of use cases, including potential benefits for 5G networks and ultra-secure communications, like Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). BT says that research into hollow core fibre presents an opportunity to explore how the capabilities of optical fibre can be enhanced in future, with the potential to reduce the latency, or signal delay, caused by the light travelling through glass, by up to 50 per cent. 

This reduction could potentially enable benefits such as high frequency trading, or lowering mobile network costs. Working with Mavenir, BT demonstrated that using hollow core fibre can increase the distance between street antennas and the back-end processing in exchanges.

Professor Andrew Lord, BT’s head of optical network research, said: ‘We’re excited to begin trialling hollow core fibre and to discover the potential opportunities and benefits of deploying this technology in certain scenarios.  This new type of fibre cable could play an important role in the future of the world’s communications infrastructure, heralding a step-change in capability and speed, to keep up with the demands for high-speed, low latency communications driven by 5G networks, streaming, and more.’

Mike Fake, director responsible for product management at Lumenisity added: ‘Lumenisity is delighted to be the supplier of field deployable CoreSmart hollow core cable for these trials with BT. This is further evidence of the impact low loss, high performing cables can have on the networks operated by our carrier partners.’

John Baker, Mavenir’s senior vice president, business development, concluded: ‘The ability to extend the reach of fibre connected radios only further demonstrates the power of Open RAN and its ecosystem. This improvement will significantly increase the number of use cases that can be served from containerised cloud based Open RAN solutions.’

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