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Google's fast but Nokia's faster: Its 65Tbps subsea fiber blows record out of the water

New technology from Nokia Bell Labs has helped achieve lab speeds of 65 terabits per second.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

To put Nokia's subsea cable's 65Tbps into perspective, it's the same as simultaneously streaming 10 million HDTV channels.

Image: Nokia

Nokia's Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks has achieved a mind-blowing 65 terabit-per-second (Tbps) data transmission over a 6,600km fiber link.

The company set the record in lab tests, trialing new technology from Nokia's Bell Labs, which is aimed at supporting demand by telecom and internet firms for higher capacity undersea links.

To put 65Tbps into perspective, it's the same as simultaneously streaming 10 million HDTV channels. It's also 5Tbps faster than the FASTER Cable undersea system that Google recently invested in to support Google Apps and Cloud Platform users.

The FASTER cable has a current capacity of 60Tbps, of which Google has access to 10Tbps. NEC, FASTER's supplier, in June completed the rollout of the 9,000km FASTER cable, which links Oregon to two locations in Japan.

Nokia's Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks is the top supplier of subsea cable systems, having deployed 580,000km of optical submarine cables for customers. It and Nokia Bell Labs joined Nokia through its acquisition of Alcatel Lucent last year.

The trial used a form of modulation developed by Bell Labs called Probabilistic Constellation Shaping, or PCS, which helps produce optical signals that are less prone to noise and other impairments. Nokia Bell Labs also used PCS to achieve 1Tbps over Deutsche Telekom's land networks in September.

Nokia notes the trials used submarine-grade, dual-band, erbium-doped fiber amplifiers. The first amplifiers using doped fibers were rolled out in a transatlantic undersea cable in 1995.

PCS and other improvements over the past 20 years offer today's undersea cables 13,000 times the capacity of that first long-haul amplifier system.

"This new record is the latest in a long series of achievements by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks over the past 20 years, with breakthroughs that have transformed long-distance data transmission," Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks CTO Olivier Gautheron said.

"It also underlines our strategic focus on R&D to raise the bar for undersea fiber-optic technology as our researchers continue to develop new solutions to help traditional and webscale operators cope with increasing requirements for speed, capacity and cost-effectiveness."

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