Nokia Sets World Records in Submarine Optical Transmission, Paving the Way for Next-Gen Networking Equipment

In a groundbreaking announcement today, Nokia revealed the establishment of two new world records in submarine optical transmission, significantly influencing the future of optical networking equipment.
Nokia @ MWC 2023 in BarcelonaThe first record shattered the optical speed benchmark for transoceanic distances. Nokia Bell Labs researchers showcased an astounding 800-Gbps data rate over a distance of 7865 km using a single wavelength of light. This distance is double the current state-of-the-art equipment’s capability at the same capacity, equivalent to the geographical span between Seattle and Tokyo. The achievement was realized at Nokia Bell Labs’ optical research testbed in Paris-Saclay, France.

The second record was a collaborative effort by Nokia Bell Labs and Nokia subsidiary Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), achieving a net throughput of 41 Tbps over 291 km via a C-band unrepeated transmission system. These systems are vital in connecting islands and offshore platforms to the mainland. The milestone surpassed the previous record of 35 Tbps over the same distance. Nokia Bell Labs and ASN accomplished this feat at ASN’s research testbed facility, also located in Paris-Saclay.

The groundbreaking scientific findings behind both records were presented by Nokia Bell Labs and ASN at the European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC) on the 4th and 5th of October in Glasgow, Scotland.

The key to these world records lies in the innovation of higher-baud-rate technologies. Baud, measuring the frequency of optical laser pulses, significantly impacts data throughput. Higher baud rates enable enhanced data transmission, ultimately empowering optical systems to transmit the same capacities over much greater distances.

In transoceanic systems, this advancement doubles the distance for efficient data transmission between cities spanning the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. For C-band unrepeated systems, it translates to higher capacities with fewer transceivers and without the need for new frequency bands, benefiting island and offshore platform connections.

The research is expected to shape the next generation of submarine optical transmission systems. While future submarine fiber deployments will leverage evolving fiber technologies, the existing undersea fiber networks can enhance their performance and longevity by adopting next-generation higher-baud-rate transceivers.

Sylvain Almonacil, Research Engineer at Nokia Bell Labs, highlighted the immense potential of these higher baud rates, enabling the direct linking of continents with 800 Gbps of capacity over individual wavelengths, a previously inconceivable achievement. Almonacil also emphasized the ongoing commitment to advancements, aiming for next-generation Terabit-per-second submarine transmissions over individual wavelengths.

Hans Bissessur, Unrepeated Systems Group leader at ASN, emphasized the significance of these research advancements in enhancing the existing fiber infrastructure’s performance. He reiterated that these advancements can extend the lifespan and efficacy of optical systems, whether they are intercontinental or serving archipelagos.

Nokia’s breakthroughs in submarine optical transmission records mark a substantial leap toward a faster and more efficient global communication network, setting the stage for transformative developments in optical networking equipment.