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Comcast deploys its first hollow-core fiber in the US

The cable company detailed the milestones it has already reached during its initial testing of the 40km hollow-core run near its Philadelphia HQ.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer

Comcast announced that it has deployed hollow-core fiber within its US telecommunications infrastructure for the first time. 

The company claims it's the first ISP in the US to deploy the advanced fiber type and believes its 40km initial rollout is the "longest deployment of hollow-core fiber worldwide by an ISP." The deployment in question runs from two locations in the greater Philadelphia area, where Comcast's headquarters is located. 

According to the provider, the initial installation of hollow-core fiber has already been used to transmit bidirectional data, with both upstream and downstream traffic traversing a single fiber. Comcast also claims to have verified forward and backward technology compatibility with its existing and planned deployments and produced transfer rates ranging from 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) to 400 Gbps, all across a single strand of hollow-core. 

Comcast notes that this is all made possible by the construction of the hollow-core fiber itself. Unlike traditional fiber conduits, which route optical data through the glass fibers that can, according to the company, slow the laser light by as much as 50%, hollow-core fiber transmits its optical traffic through an air-filled central channel within the fiber. Comcast claims that this eponymous hollow core can transmit data 150% faster with 33% lower latency. 

Also: Quantum cryptography: This air-filled fiber optic cable can transport un-hackable keys, say researchers

Ultimately, the broadband provider believes this type of fiber will make it possible to offer "double the reach for latency-critical applications" while also expediting transaction rates by "around 47%." 

Comcast intends to target demanding customer use cases with this new technology, including network virtualization, telemedicine, augmented and virtual reality, and other emerging services.

The cable provider believes this latest introduction will also help its ongoing quest to bring 10G connectivity to its residential network. Elad Nafshi, EVP & Chief Network Officer at Comcast Cable, said, as Comcast works to bring "10G, multigigabit performance to tens of millions of homes, hollow-core fiber will help to ensure that the network powering those experiences is among the most advanced and highest performing in the world." 

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