Alcatel-Lucent sees 'major breakthrough' in tech for 1,000Tbps speeds

The company's research arm is striving towards 1-petabit-per-second speeds over fibre in time for the arrival of 5G in 2020.

Alcatel-Lucent's research arm, Bell Labs, has announced that ongoing testing of its prototype real-time space-division multiplexed optical multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO-SDM) system could see the company attain speeds of 1 petabit per second in time for the arrival of 5G and the Internet of Things.

In what the company called a "major breakthrough", a trial of the 6x6 real-time MIMO transmission technology in New Jersey saw Bell Labs successfully remove for the first time crosstalk from multiple signals on the fibre supporting the six parallel optical signal paths using real-time processing.

"This experiment represents a major breakthrough in the development of future optical transport," Marcus Weldon, CTO of Alcatel-Lucent and president of Bell Labs, said.

"We are at the crossroads of a huge change in communications networks, with the advent of 5G wireless and cloud networking under way. Operators and enterprises alike will see their networks challenged by massive increases in traffic. At Bell Labs, we are continuously innovating to shape the future of communications networks to meet those demands."

The successful experiment used six transmitters and six receivers alongside real-time digital signal processing over coupled fibre stretching 60km in Bell Labs' global headquarters.

The arrival of 5G in 2020 will bring with it a need for petabit-per-second speeds, the company said, with demand to outstrip current capacity. Bell Labs' MIMO-SDM technology could see today's 10Tbps to 20Tbps increase to 1 petabit per second -- the equivalent of 1,000Tbps.

Last month, Alcatel-Lucent announced a trial of its G.fast fibre-to-the-basement technology in partnership with the company rolling out Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), attaining throughput speeds of 800Mbps.

G.fast, used to provide high-speed broadband on networks that stop short of rolling fibre all the way to the premises is the next iteration of DSL after ADSL and VDSL.

Approved by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in December 2014, G.fast is a mix of DSL and fibre elements, and provides "fibre-like speeds" from up to 400 metres away, with aggregate speeds of up to 1Gbps.

NBN has been using Alcatel-Lucent G.fast equipment -- specifically, the 7368 Intelligent Service Access Manager (ISAM) Optical Network Terminals, 7368 ISAM CPE with integrated reverse power, and 5520 Access Management System -- for the trial in Melbourne, as well as a 20-year-old CAT-3 copper telephone line from the distribution point.

Alcatel-Lucent has undertaken 34 G.fast trials with various operators across the globe, including recent trials with BT as well as the world's first G.fast commercial deployment with Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) in Taiwan.

"Delivering better broadband to more Australians will be a key factor in preparing the nation for future innovation and growth opportunities. We share NBN's ethos that no one technology fits all, especially for a deployment such as this one," said Sean O'Halloran, president and managing director of Alcatel-Lucent Oceania.

"As a leader in fixed ultra-broadband access, we can offer operators a mix of fibre and copper technologies that they can use to deploy broadband more quickly and cost effectively, while planning for the future. This trial represents a growing momentum as more service providers recognise the potential of G.fast."

UK telco BT began rolling out G.fast broadband technology in August in the small town of Huntingdon, promising speeds of up to 330Mbps -- "more than 10 times the current UK average", according to BT -- to the 2,000 premises being connected.

BT said that should the experiment be a success, it would be rolled out to the entire country.

CHT has also launched commercial G.fast services in Taiwan, speeding up its own high-speed broadband network by forgoing fibre to the premises.