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Optus upgrades wholesale fibre network across Australia to 100Gbps

The telco has upgraded its cross-continent network with Alcatel-Lucent wavelength technology to provide capacity of up to 100Gbps to wholesale customers.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Telecommunications carrier Optus has upgraded its city-connecting wholesale fibre network to 100Gbps, bringing faster speeds and greater capacity to Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and Cairns.

Optus' wholesale optical network provides business and government customers with high-speed connectivity, and has been upgraded between Perth, Western Australia, and Cairns, Queensland, in partnership with telco equipment provider Alcatel-Lucent.

Alcatel-Lucent's scalable 1830 Photonic Service Switch and Photonic Service Engine coherent technology solution extends the network's 100G signals to reach places up to 3,000km away, providing wavelength links with tenfold the capacity that was formerly available. The agile and flexible capacity can also be redirected to wherever it is required at any given time.

"Optus is committed to building reliable network capacity for retail, government, and enterprise customers based on the world's best long-haul transmission technology. This upgrade supports the changing needs of our customers including increasing capacity demands across Optus' Wholesale and branded business lines alike," said Rob Parcell, MD of Optus Wholesale, Satellite, and SMB.

"Investment in this type of network capability means we can reliably scale the delivery of high-speed, low-latency services over a resilient high-capacity network interconnecting Cairns to Perth for business and government and other carriers through our wholesale channel."

According to Alcatel-Lucent, the size of Australia has historically made it difficult to ensure high-speed networks connect datacentres and cables across the continent. The company's wavelength-extending optical service switch upgrade meant no more hardware had to be built and installed across the country, as existing infrastructure could be used.

"A vast country like Australia presents unique challenges for network deployment," noted Alcatel-Lucent's president of IP Routing and Transport Basil Alwan. "Customers across the country demand better access to high-performance, advanced broadband services at reasonable price. Through these upgrades, we are supporting Optus to enhance user experience and lay the foundation for future service growth."

Parcell agreed, saying that business customer requirements are constantly being driven higher by capacity-intensive applications and processes.

"There is exponential demand for high-speed connectivity, driven by growth in cloud computing, datacentres, and subsea cable upgrades," he said.

Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes last year similarly expressed optimism in using existing infrastructure to upgrade the nationwide broadband network, lauding the decision by the Coalition government to adopt a multi-technology mix National Broadband Network (NBN) making use of present copper and fibre.

"I am extremely excited by this project, because I think it will be successful, and it will be a landmark for the rest of the world," Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes told journalists at Alcatel-Lucent's Technology Symposium in New Jersey last November.

The telco equipment provider was one of the first companies to contract with NBN, signing a deal in 2010 to supply up to AU$1.5 billion worth of optical and Ethernet aggregation equipment. Once the full fibre-to-the-node (FttN) portion of the current NBN commences rolling out, it is likely that a new deal will need to be signed.

Optus also signed with NBN, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last month granting final approval for Optus to transition its hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) customers onto the fixed-line NBN, with NBN to progressively acquire and integrate parts of the telco's network.

The revised agreement will also place obligations on Optus to use the NBN for the next 15 years, and share spectrum with NBN before the HFC network is progressively handed over.

An estimated 3.27 million premises could be serviced by the HFC networks being taken over from Telstra and Optus, with customers beginning to be connected from March 2016.

At the beginning of September, Optus also announced that it had switched on its 4G+ network in the Melbourne CBD. This was after the telco achieved download speeds of 317Mbps during a trial in Newcastle.

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