Nokia, Etisalat demo world’s first single-carrier, terabit-per-second field trial

Nokia and Etisalat are laying claim to trialing the world’s first terabit-per-second, single-carrier data transmission over an operator-deployed fiber network.

To put that speed in perspective, Nokia said in its press release that a terabit-per-second is enough bandwidth to download the entire "Game of Thrones" video series in HD in under two seconds.

The trial on United Arab Emirates-based Etisalat's network comes as Etisalat invests in core network infrastructure in anticipation of a new generation of high-bandwidth services including 5G.

Nokia said the trial successfully transmitted a record 50.8 terabits per second using multiple wavelengths, each with a net information rate of 1.3 terabits per second, over a 93-kilometer fiber route of Etisalat’s wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) network.

The Nokia field trial showed that Etisalat’s existing network could support the higher optical wavelength bit rates that will be required to support high-bandwidth services such as 5G extreme mobile broadband, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and data center interconnect (DCI) cloud services.

In addition to the speeds, higher bit rates per wavelength enable power and space savings, improved network simplicity, as well as increased spectral efficiency and capacity. It also enables reduced cost per bit compared to optical networks composed of lower rate channels, according to Nokia.

Using a single optical carrier operating at 100 Gigabaud, the terabit wavelengths tapped into Nokia Bell Labs' probabilistic constellation shaping (PCS) to intelligently shape the signal to achieve maximum capacity for the specific fiber route. Nokia said its Photonic Service Engine 3 was the first coherent digital signal processor to implement PCS.

“The introduction of 5G will require a network that can support dramatic increases in bandwidth in a dynamic fashion," said Nokia's Sam Bucci, head of optical networking, in a statement. "This ground-breaking trial with Etisalat is testimony to Nokia’s commitment to continue to invest in coherent and optical component technologies required to meet the 5G networking challenge at the lowest total cost of ownership for our customers.”

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Details of the trial with Etisalat were published in a post-deadline paper at the European Conference on Optical Communication, held last week in Dublin, Ireland.

Nokia has a proven track record for advancing the frontiers of optical transmission. It was the first to demonstrate single-carrier 100G transmission in a deployed production network in 2007, and the first to commercialize single-carrier 100G and 200G wavelengths in 2010 and 2013, respectively. More recently, the Nokia Bell Labs optical research team published the world’s first terabit-per-second transmission lab trials in 2015 and 2017.