Verizon works with Infinera on 800G transport to support 5G

Verizon recently worked with Infinera to successfully test 800G on a single wavelength over 400 miles on its long-haul network between Dallas and Atlanta.

Kevin Smith, Verizon’s VP of technology development and planning, said the trial was conducted on Infinera’s ICE6 platform.

Smith said Verizon is “pushing hard” on its optical transport work “to move up the stack” because it anticipates a lot more traffic as technologies such as 5G, edge compute and artificial reality take root. Verizon says the specific trial with Infinera is a piece of a much bigger evolution story connected with the 5G network. In order to advance 5G, the core network and the fiber network have to advance as well.

The trial with Infinera took place on part of Verizon’s long-haul network that it acquired from XO Communications for $1.8 billion in 2017. Smith explained that Verizon’s fiber optic network includes long-haul routes from XO Communications, of which Infinera was the legacy vendor. And Verizon also has its “huge legacy NCI Worldcom network” of which Ciena has been the traditional provider.

Of the recent Infinera trial, Needham analyst Alex Henderson said the deployments could start as soon as the second half of this year. A win here could "radically alter" investors' view of Infinera, said Henderson, according to Seeking Alpha.

Smith said Verizon will upgrade its long-haul network with 400G, 600G or 800G as it responds to demand. “You’ll see traffic growth that will happen, and as we see it, we’ll augment as needed,” he said. ”It just depends on the route and the amount of traffic, and how long that route is. There’s a lot of variables that go into that decision.”

In February, Verizon, along with Ciena and Juniper Networks, completed a test in Verizon’s live fiber network in the Dallas area to move 800 Gbps of data on a single wavelength. That test was focused on metro as opposed to the recent long-haul test with Infinera.

Verizon’s announcement today highlights its work with Infinera. The analyst Henderson pointed out that a test is not a win. The Needham team believes Verizon incumbent Ciena will be first to deploy 800G in the next several months.

"We think displacing the stumbling Nokia footprint is likely as Nokia does not have a strong 600G product or a roadmap to 800G," said Henderson.

Windstream recently said it conducted a similar 800G trial. Windstream worked with Infinera over Windstream’s long-haul network.

RELATED: Windstream, Infinera transmit 800G over long-haul network

There’s been some discussion as to whether 400G and 800G will use less power or more power. A Verizon spokesperson said, “The move to this single wavelength technology results in 50% less power (it uses one laser versus four lasers.) So there is a significant reduction in power usage.”