Bell Canada taps Ciena for 400G fiber backbone boost

Bell Canada began rolling out 400G wavelength service on its fiber backbone, tapping Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme technology to do the heavy lifting.

Ivan Mihaljevic, President of Bell Canada’s BCE Global division, told Fierce the move is targeted at better serving large cloud providers, operators, content delivery networks, data center operators and large enterprises spanning industries including healthcare, finance and manufacturing, among others.

He added the move comes in response to “explosive year on year data growth” driven by “ever increasing” usage of content on the internet, traffic flowing to public and private clouds and adoption of software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service models.

“With 400G technology, our customers will benefit from lower router port prices and lower cross-connect fees in data centers enabled with this technology,” he said.

The operator stated in a press release the upgrade would allow it to deliver speeds four times faster than before and squeeze in 50% more capacity per wavelength. The change will also allow it to boost energy efficiency and optimize network performance with automation.

Mihaljevic noted Ciena’s technology is capable of supporting 800G, and thus BCE Global can carry that capacity over its fiber backbone. However, he added that the maximum customer-side interface available today is 400G, which is “why we have chosen to announce our ability to deliver 400G service to our customers and not just our backbone capabilities.”

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Bell Canada said it has already deployed 400G capabilities across “major spans” of its 10,563-mile fiber backbone. Mihaljevic said this includes “major network national cross sections, into major cities, where we have previously seen demand for 100G service.” It will continue to expand availability of its 400G service throughout 2021, he added.

Funding fiber

In February 2021, Bell Canada executives outlined a plan to boost capex spending by CAD1 billion ($800.5 million) to CAD1.2 billion ($960.6 million) over the course of two years, naming fiber as a key investment priority. Mihaljevic said the 400G announcement was “in line” with that plan.

When the investment was announced, Bell Canada CEO Mirko Bibic said it was “the right strategic move at the right time for our customers and our company, allowing us to realize the substantial operational benefits of state-of-the-art fiber and low latency mobile networks sooner.”