Yesterday, Infinera (NASDAQ:INFN, news, filings) announced its new product line for undersea cables, making formal something that had been trickling out over the past few quarters. The new Submarine Line Modules (SLMs) incorporate silicon optical amplifiers for ultra-longhaul reach. As with other Infinera gear, operators can expand to 160 wavelengths on a single fiber, which will help current cables in the Atlantic continue to meet capacity requirements for a few years if true under those conditions. The public material doesn’t give details on the actual distances the new gear is capable of, it almost certainly depends on the design and age of the particular cable. But they did give us the name of one of its customers: glbc.
Global Crossing upgraded several of its cables this year, and for the MAC and SAC systems the Infinera solution has now been revealed as the means. Those cables cover some 26,000 route miles, but each segment isn’t as long as a transpacific or even transatlantic distance. That doesn’t necessarily mean Infinera’s gear can’t do it, just that it’s probably easier to believe in the reliability of new gear at medium distances first. Infinera claims another 24,000 miles of undersea cable is using their gear, I wonder whose cable or cables those might be?
Most important here perhaps is the promise of the PIC in reducing costs long term. One of Infinera’s selling points on land based networks has been that by integrating everything onto the same chip the costs scale better. Bringing that potential change to the economics of undersea networks *might* become the driver needed to make inevitable new cables in the Atlantic economically feasible. This new Infinera gear is designed to sit at the terminals of existing cables, using whatever amplifiers are already under the waves. What might the economics of a new cable specifically designed for Infinera’s gear look like? And for the next generation of 40Gbps gear?
However, Infinera has yet to release its native 40Gbps product for land based networks, so one has to assume that a similar submarine product is even further away and who knows what density they might manage with it.
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