How submarine networking changes the game

Well over 95 percent of the world’s intercontinental electronic communications traffic travels over submarine networks. With such critical data traversing the networks, it’s hard to fathom that, until recently, submarine networks were treated differently from terrestrial networks. There are historical, technological, and geographic reasons for that, but the fact is that terrestrial networks saw many technological advances, while subsea networks were left to tread water.

That has all changed. Submarine networking has recently seen several technological evolutions, such as the rapid adoption and adaption of coherent detection modems, ROADMs, mesh networks, and software innovation—all originally designed for terrestrial networks. By using coherent detection modems, submarine networks could finally change how and how much capacity they added to the transoceanic corridors. In addition, the application of this terrestrial technology extended the life of existing wet plant assets, opened existing wet plants to best-in-breed upgrade vendors, and completely changed legacy business models. ROADMs allowed for vastly simplified end-to-end network designs, while intelligent mesh networks protected the data from inevitable network faults. Open source software innovation enables new capabilities for submarine networks, such as bandwidth-on-demand connectivity services. 

The use of coherent and ROADM technology over submarine cables finally united land, sea, and cloud-based networks, enabling seamless end-to-end networks that maximize optical spectrum efficiency to keep pace with voracious bandwidth demands. As a result, operators have been able to improve the monetization of their existing and new wet plant assets. In addition, software intelligence and automation help improve and guarantee network availability by proactively and reactively addressing inevitable network faults. Coherent technology and ROADMs facilitate PoP-to-PoP networks that increase revenues and protect margins by enabling optimized network designs to reduce the total cost of end-to-end network ownership.

How submarine networking is being used and rolled out

Submarine cable operators are now free to use the building blocks they need to design and build customized end-to-end networks. With this new freedom, an openness movement in submarine networking is starting to brew. The terrestrial networking space has seen such openness for a while, but now submarine networks are on the cusp of making proprietary technologies relics of the past. Openness is transforming a static and conservative market to dramatically change the design, deployment, and management of submarine networks.

Now that operators can select from a broad array of vendors’ best-in-breed technologies, they can streamline operational processes, accelerate service innovation and time to market, and keep up with the demands of web-scale content players that account for an ever-increasing share of transoceanic bandwidth growth.

How Ciena helps

Ciena’s unique submarine network architecture, GeoMesh Extreme, sets the stage for the massive change to submarine networks. It combines the best hardware, software, and professional services, allowing submarine cable operators to scale information-carrying capabilities, protect multiple terabits of traffic from inevitable cable faults, and lower the total cost of network ownership to protect revenues and margins. 

Ciena GeoMesh Extreme has four building blocks:

  • Switching: 5430 Packet-Optical Platform, 6500 Packet-Optical Platform, 8700 Packetwave® Platform, and OneConnect Intelligent Control Plane
  • Services: Cloud-based SLA Portal, PinPoint C-OTDR (Coherent Optical Time Domain Reflectometer), Managed NOC, Network Health, Topology Discovery, And Alarm Correlation

Submarine cables are designed with distance, capacity, and latency in mind, so each one has a very unique personality. Ciena understands this, and has designed the GeoMesh Extreme architecture to give operators the ability to construct purpose-built networks, with only the building blocks they need to address specific performance and market requirements. 

Ciena blazed the trail with the original GeoMesh, introduced just a few years ago. The architecture blurred the lines between submarine and terrestrial networks by viewing them as one seamless, end-to-end service path. With the addition of a significant number of new features, technologies, and services, GeoMesh Extreme built upon cloud-based software innovation to take that network approach to the next level.

GeoMesh Extreme will become the key tool in the arsenals of every operator. You’ll be able to optimize and monetize assets by designing a purpose-built network from end to end, overland and undersea. You’ll keep up with voracious global bandwidth growth, protect multiple terabits of traffic, avoid outages from inevitable network faults, grow revenues, and protect margins by combating ongoing price erosion.