Before adding multi-hundred-gigabit transponders to customers' networks, service providers manually calculate up to 40 configurations and their impact on wavelength usage to ensure infrastructure can manage traffic in all scenarios without running out of power before it reaches the destination. But what if that process was automated?
Well, it was for a while at Telia Carrier when the international network provider live-field-tested Infinera's autonomous intelligent transponder (AIT) technology on its 1,500km (932 miles) fiber backbone. And as soon as the solution reaches general availability later this year, the Swedish-based service provider plans to fully deploy it across the network, Mattias Fridström, chief evangelist at Telia Carrier, told Broadband World News.
"Today you have to do some calculations before you put something into the network, which practically means -- I wouldn't say we wait until we have many transformers to put in, but sometimes to avoid doing calculations twice [within a week or so] you sometimes put in batches of things," he said.
Based on a prior relationship with Coriant (which Infinera acquired for $430 million in July 2018), Telia Carrier was first in line to put Infinera's AIT prototype technology through its paces in a real environment, far from a lab's relative safety. The operator's network -- which connects Munich, Zurich, Strasbourg and Frankfurt -- includes 20-year-old fiber, varied channel conditions and quality impairments that accompany usage, environment and age.
The live field trial, enacted within the framework of Celtic-Plus project SENDATE, showcased how fiber optic transmission systems can autonomously adapt to changing network conditions in real time to support optimal service quality and performance while simplifying operations. Telia Carrier measured its potential ROI in multiple ways, Fridström said.
The ability to change network capabilities within seconds, not hours or days -- or even weeks for smaller service providers -- is critical, said Rob Shore, senior vice president of marketing at Infinera, in an interview with BBWN. Some customers "spend thousands and thousands of person hours a year optimizing their networks," he said -- and still they're not getting the most juice, the maximum gigabits they've deployed within the infrastructure, because providers are not certain there'll be "enough gas in the tank to get home with any to spare," Shore said, using a simple but effective analogy.
AIT technology brings the assurance of data-based knowledge, said Fridström.
"With this, we can just say, 'We need this tomorrow for a customer,' then put the card in and it's going to adjust perfectly. We're talking about hours each time we do something in the network and the network is growing on a weekly basis, so we're saving hours every week," Fridström said. "At the end of the year, that's many, many weeks we've saved in time."
It's more complex to quantify, but customer experience improves along with a provider's ability to act faster, he noted.
"Everything needs to grow in real time these days, and we have customers go, 'If you can do this tomorrow, you will have the deal, and we can even pay a premium price,' and those are the kinds of things this will make available to us," he said. "Now we can meet very challenging demands or delivery times."
Lastly, CSPs maximize the resources they've poured into infrastructure, getting the entire number of gigabits they have paid for and configured. And by ending manual estimates, CSPs get full usage of their investment.
"When you make manual calculations you're very conservative. You never really stretch the performance or limits of any system. You put [components] in and you have everything calculated as though, 'what if something happens along this line?' But [AIT] finds the absolute, optimum performance and then if a function changes, it adapts and changes with it," said Fridström. "This means we can increase the usage of the transponder much more. Before we had to agree this transponder can only do 100-gig. Tomorrow, if this works fine, then this transponder might do 150-gigs, so then of course we have more to sell to customers … which means more to sell and more happy customers."
AIT continues Infinera's business line that focuses on increasing operators' fiber and infrastructure usage, Shore said. When available later this year, AIT will complement Infinera Aware (already in use by multiple providers, according to Shore). This software delivers accurate, real-time residual margin values that consider optical signal-to-noise ratio and non-linear impairments for each wavelength, the vendor said. Measurements are digital signal processor (DSP)-independent, supporting Infinera plus Open ROADM-compliant and third-party interfaces. The software also lets operators conduct wavelength routing and validation through an SDN controller or network management system, use dashboard-based network-health checks, enhanced provisioning via the SDN or NMS and enhanced SDN-based restoration, Infinera said.
When combined, they will increase wavelength utilization by 30%, said Shore. The technologies also allow more on every wavelength, of great importance to long-distance networks such as 600 gigs and above, he added.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.