BT break data speed records in new trial

New trials by BT and Huawei have achieved the fastest ever speeds of 2 Terabits per second over a live core network link, spanning more than 700km between London and Dublin, in another world-first for BT’s team of researchers . 

In 2014 BT used optical superchannel technology to deliver record breaking speeds over a closed trial network. Now, the company has successfully applied the same technology to the commercial fibre link carrying live customer traffic between London and Dublin.

Separately, BT also announced today that it has successfully transmitted speeds of 5.6Tbps over a single optical fibre running on its trial network between the BT Labs in Adastral Park and the BT Tower in London, beating the previous record of 3Tbps set in 2014. This speed is the equivalent of downloading almost 200 HD quality films in one second.

The technology and techniques pioneered in the company’s labs – using Terabit superchannels and flexible grid infrastructures – will allow BT to avoid a ‘capacity crunch’, by squeezing far more bandwidth out of its existing core optical networks which are the “motorways” of the internet. This can be achieved by increasing the spectral efficiency of a single strand of glass.

Howard Watson, CEO of BT Technology, Service & Operations, said: “BT scientists built the first commercial single mode optical fibre link back in 1984 and the BT Labs remain at the forefront of photonics research more than thirty years later.

“The core network is the superhighway of the internet. It’s important that our core networks keep pace with the growth in bandwidth demands driven by take-up of high-speed fibre broadband, HD content, 4G smartphones and tablets and in the future, 5G services.

“So we’re investing in our core, as well as in high-speed access technology such as fibre broadband, to make sure there is no capacity crunch and deliver the best possible speeds to customers.

“These landmark trials show that we can easily turn up the dial to deliver the speeds needed in our core networks to stay well ahead of rising customer demand.”

Long-term Partnership

Zha Jun, President of Huawei Fixed Network Product Line: “We are proud to be working with BT to make this world leading trial a success. We have been working together for over ten years and this project marks a big step forward in our efforts to build future-ready core networks for our customers. Ultra-High-Speed optical networks are an indispensable infrastructure for the future of digital life, and this is an area where Huawei is investing, to help telcos such as BT squeeze as much capacity out of their core networks as possible.”

Key technical facts about the trials:

 The 2Tbps trials exploit commercial flexible grid hardware and real-time flexible rate 64GBaud transponders. 64GBaud optical technology runs at twice the electrical speed of current deployed core optical network optical signals and is one of the key enablers for high-speed, long reach optical transmission.

 The live trials were conducted over a 727km commercial flexible grid optical core link between London and Dublin, based on Huawei’s OSN 9800/8800 and iManager U2000 platforms, carrying live 40/100G customer traffic. The link includes a 133km long unrepeatered submarine cable link from Dublin to Holyhead.

● The trials demonstrate, for the first time, the successful operation of real-time 64GBaud flexible-rate transponders allowing all-optical, long reach superchannel transmission, with low latency.

 In addition, by exploiting flexible rate transponders, BT successfully demonstrated fast capacity turn up (or network upgrade) equivalent to ~2Tbps in one minute.

 BT and Huawei also successfully demonstrated a record real-time 5.6Tbps optical superchannel over a closed loop network running between the BT Tower and Adastral Park. This comprised 28 x 200Gb/s sub-channels, bundled together to provide combined capacity, achieving highest capacity and spectral efficiency.