800G is a hot topic of discussion in the optical industry today – it’s everywhere!  And as is customary when a new technology emerges, there are various opinions and speculation as to the value and expected rate of adoption, especially these days when lab access and live trials pose a unique challenge. Who has real product? Is anyone going to deploy 800G in the near term? Are there technological and operational barriers that still need to be overcome?  

As the only vendor with available 800G product shipping today, we are in the unique and fortunate position here at Ciena where we don’t need to speculate.

Curious to know the facts around 800G deployments?

In just over three months of commercial availability of WaveLogic 5 Extreme, Ciena has shipped more than 1,000 coherent modems to over 30 customers around the globe, all of whom are actively deploying 800G in their networks.

In this blog, I’ll share details of these deployments, and answers to the most common questions we receive, so you can cut through the hype and get to the facts about 800G.  

What is 800G?

Let’s first cover what we mean by 800G.  Here, we are talking about state of the art programmable coherent optical technology that operates at high baud (90-100G symbols/second) and is capable of processing and transporting more capacity than has been previously possible over a single optical channel or wavelength, up to 800 billion bits per second.  

WL5+DialSimilar to what we saw several years ago when 400G was first introduced, an important attribute of 800G technology is its ability to increase fiber capacity or extend wavelengths using multiple, remotely adjustable line rates. As an example, Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme supports line rates from 200Gb/s to 800Gb/s in 50G steps, enabling operators to achieve maximum capacity for any link in the network with a single technology, from short reach terrestrial links, all the way to Trans-Pacific and >10,000km subsea links.

With an 800G solution, network operators, service and content providers can transport more throughput for every wavelength they deploy or extend wavelengths across longer distances without regeneration. 

What does 800G mean for network providers?

It means significant reduction in footprint, power and transport costs with fewer wavelengths to deploy and manage. And because a 400Gb/s wavelength can now extend ultra-long haul distances (ex. 4,000km) for the first time, 800G networks are ready for new 400G router architectures, with the ability to offer efficient 400GbE connectivity across any link.

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Is 800G being deployed today?

The short answer is yes.

Ciena stands alone right now as the only vendor shipping 800G product.  Not sampling, not trialing, but shipping real product for customer deployment.

With this technology only just coming available, you might assume few, if any, operators are actually deploying 800G today.

In fact, in just over three months of commercial availability, and not including shipments for lab testing, Ciena has shipped more than 1,000 coherent modems worldwide to over 30 customers who are in various stages of actively deploying WaveLogic 5 Extreme in their networks.     

What’s exciting to see is that these deployments aren’t limited to one part of the world. The map below provides a visualization of the distribution of 800G modems across various regions.  And another important point to understand is that at least one third of these networks are already carrying live traffic over Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme.

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Who are the early adopters?

As I’ve talked about before, customers are demanding more from their optical networks in different ways, and this is evident in the diversity of network operators deploying WaveLogic 5 Extreme. It isn’t just one type of customer, but service and content providers, subsea operators and research and education institutions. All are operators that require high-capacity connectivity and want to get the most efficiencies out of their deployed fiber.

For which applications is WaveLogic 5 Extreme being used for to date? 

In general, WaveLogic 5 Extreme is used to reduce transport costs and prepare networks for the transition to 400G routers. New network buildouts are one example, where the programmable line rate of WaveLogic 5 Extreme provides the ability to maximize capacity across any link in the network using a single transponder. Submarine is another popular application, which makes sense as maximizing spectral efficiency over limited cable resources is a key requirement. Depending on previous technology deployed, WaveLogic 5 Extreme provides at least a 30% improvement in fiber capacity, and 50% reduction in footprint and energy consumption. These improved efficiencies directly translate to cost savings from both a CAPEX and OPEX perspective.  

What’s driving such strong early adoption of 800G?

Well, it's not just one factor. The incredibly fast adoption rate of WaveLogic 5 Extreme, despite the physical lab access restrictions present in today’s environment, is a strong testament to the following:

  • Unmatched, demonstrated, industry leading performance offered by the solution
  • Trust in Ciena solution performance and reliability, accelerating standardization cycles (trust that each one of us at Ciena take very seriously)
  • Ability of the Ciena team to execute and deliver all required capabilities for a reliable, robust coherent optical solution

What do I mean by “all required capabilities for a reliable, robust coherent optical solution”? This means: 

  • WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent optics offered across both our flagship 6500 converged packet-optical platform, as well as the Waveserver 5 compact interconnect platform, to address diverse architecture requirements  
  • Terrestrial-optimized and subsea-optimized variants of WaveLogic 5 Extreme to address diverse application requirements
  • Support across a wide range of photonic line system configurations including SLTE, CDC, and integrated C&L-band systems
  • Implementation of open APIs through common data models as well as full feature support in Ciena’s domain controller, MCP, to address a wide range of operational requirements
  • Available network design and planning tools
  • Ability to manufacture in volume with a mature, predictable multi-sourced supply chain

Basically, WaveLogic 5 Extreme solutions include all the elements end-users require for building robust and reliable, end-to-end networks – and they include them today

Want to keep up to date with the state of the industry in 800G?

We are only just beginning the 800G journey and expect to see exciting achievements in the months ahead. Over the next eight weeks, Ciena will be providing a new unique insight per week on how people are deploying 800G.  Don’t miss it – start following us today on LinkedIn.

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