Zayo, Infinera surpass 1,000km to set new 800G distance record

Infinera reclaimed the 800G distance record from optical rival Ciena, teaming with fiber provider Zayo Group on a demonstration which hit a whopping 1,044.5 kilometers (km).

The trial was conducted on a stretch of Zayo’s commercial network running between Springville, Utah and Reno, Nevada and used the original version of Infinera’s Ice6 optical engine. The result handily beat a previous distance record of 970 km achieved by Telus and Ciena in late 2020.

Aaron Werley, Zayo’s VP of Lit Networks, told Fierce the company has been looking for opportunities to set a new record as it continues an effort to upgrade its transport network to offer 400G services for customers. Thus, it took only a few weeks to go from concept to implementation once a suitable route for the trial was identified, he said.

Infinera SVP of Marketing Rob Shore added the demonstration highlights how performance delivery is “a multi-vector type of problem. Certainly the optical engine itself matters a lot, but it’s just as important the optical infrastructure and how these two things can be really be combined together to provide really important results.”

Overbuild progress

Werley noted Zayo is pushing hard to make advanced performance like this available across more of its network. He said a previously announced network upgrade project covering 31 routes is well underway and expected to be completed by the end of this year. That project primarily consists of optical technology upgrades designed to enable it to offer 400G services. It is also overbuilding some areas with fresh fiber plant and constructing entirely new routes in areas where it wants to have unique offerings as part of the project.

“We’re seeing increased demand by some of our larger customers for more and more bandwidth and looking at our network we quickly hit exhaust. So, we kicked off an overbuild project to do really three things. First and foremost was to add capacity into our network,” he explained. With its new line systems it is getting 30-40 terabits of capacity per route. It also wanted to upgrade from 100G capabilities to 400G and harden its infrastructure, he said.

Asked what technology it is using for the upgrades, Werley said it is planning to implement “800-gig wherever we can.” He added it will use Infinera’s Ice6 solution for “a good portion of our network” but is also deploying optical kit from Ciena and Nokia. Its fiber plant suppliers are OFS and Corning.

Compared to its legacy technology, Werley said its new infrastructure is much more efficient and enables the company to slash its cost per bit by as much as 60%.

Though the project has felt some impact from supply chain issues, Werley said Zayo remains in good position since it was able to secure its place in line with vendors early last year.