Astound unveils 400G wavelength service with Ciena tech

Astound Business Solutions has launched a commercial 400G wavelength service, which it said aims to deliver the “massive capacity” large carriers, enterprises and public sector organizations require.

The offering leverages Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme 800G and WaveLogic 5 Nano 400G coherent optics. Launched in 2020, WaveLogic 5e is capable of transmitting and receiving up to 800G of network traffic on a single wavelength.

Astound chose Ciena’s technology for its wavelength service because it’s deploying that same technology in its own network, said Patrick Knorr, chief commercial officer at Astound Business Solutions.

The operator is also deploying Ciena’s Waveserver 5 interconnect platform to deliver 400G connectivity across all its network links. Astound’s long-haul network covers more than 41,000 route miles and provides connectivity to over 75,000 business customers.

A number of regional fiber providers have announced they are using Ciena’s coherent optics to expand network capacity, such as open access network operator eCommunity Fiber, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative and OPTK Networks.

In a press release announcing Astound’s offering, Knorr stated, “one of the main drivers of 400G wavelength service adoption is the need for greater connectivity speeds between multiple locations and meeting the demand of these higher-speed requirements in sites like data centers.”

He told Fierce Telecom Astound is actually seeing “limited demand” for 400G wavelength services at this time, “but it is on the road map for larger customers.”

“Based on the ever-accelerating need for capacity, we fully expect demand to accelerate in 2024,” said Knorr.

An analysis from Vertical Systems Group last year found Lumen, Zayo, Verizon and AT&T were the top four wavelength services providers in the U.S., as they each have 4% or more of the U.S. market for retail and wholesale wavelength services.

VSG Principal Rick Malone told Fierce last June he expects “steady growth of the wavelength market during the next several years, with double digit growth for the higher speeds.”

“As a point-to-point service, wave is positioned to interconnect the densest traffic sites in within high connectivity architectures like SD-WAN,” Malone added.

For enterprises that are moving large amounts of data between locations and data centers, “400G will be a great option to add bulk capacity,” Knorr went on to say.

“But for most enterprises, they will not need this level of capacity anytime soon,” he said.

The education sector is one that’s poised to take advantage of 400G wavelengths, Knorr noted.

“With expanded use of video, online, and hybrid learning tools, even in a post COVID world, we expect education to be an early adopter of 400G just as they were for 10G and 100G,” he said. “Initially, we expect the best use cases will be for universities and for educational service centers that support multiple school districts.”

As for how Astound is expanding its long-haul network, Knorr said the company is undertaking “large-scale projects supporting land side connectivity for multiple trans-Pacific fiber cables, as well as several large expansions in areas such as the greater Chicago and Portland markets.”