Corning Unveils Lower-Loss Fiber

March 10th, 2011 by · 9 Comments

Yesterday at the OFC/NFOEC conference, Corning (NYSE:GLW, news, filings) unveiled the next generation of its LEAF non-zero dispersion shifted fiber.  The new version is optimized for longhaul applications, with an attenuation specification at $0.19db/km at 1550nm.  That corresponds to a 3dB per 100km over other NZ-DSF products, and means this new generation will be able to achieve longer transmission distances.  It will also make it easier to upgrade to 40Gbps and of course 100Gbps technologies.

Is this new fiber sufficient to change the economics of the terrestrial longhaul business noticeably?  There hasn't been that much focus on intercity fiber improvements in some time, most of the new fiber put into the ground is in the metro or undersea.  But in 2010 we did see two major terrestrial longhaul deployments between New York and Chicago:  Spread Networks and Allied Fiber.  Allied Fiber may already be using this stuff, if not in that build then in phase 2 which links the DC area to Atlanta and Miami. And then there are the networks with extra conduit that they can use for this.  Level 3 has tons of this, Qwest has some as well, and AT&T might from the Velocita build.  If in fact this fiber is cheaper enough to operate, these carriers might have an advantage since they can deploy it relatively cheaply.

On the other hand, it might not be enough to change the economics appreciably.  Lots of older fiber is already in use in competition with newer fiber, and the world hasn't ended yet.  Any opinions out there?  Is Corning's new fiber the cat's meow?

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Categories: Fiber optic cable · Internet Backbones

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9 Comments So Far


  • carlk says:

    Extra conduits? Rob, do you know how many empty conduits Qwest has left over from their original build? tia

  • Anonymous says:

    May be doable, but there will be construction issues on a lot of the empty ducts. Duct integrity is key when you blow fiber and a lot can happen over the course of time. Cheaper than new build though.

    • fanfare says:

      Duct integrity? Are you talking about L3 in that regard? The conduits are not that old … but, I’d like to hear more about this. I assume L3 .. and Q .. and even the later stuff by T was built to stand up to any issues outside of at least 30 yrs. Unless you are talking earthquakes… Still, I’d like to hear more …

      • Clevus says:

        There is a lot of roadside or railside activity that can damage duct. Anytime an additional duct is used for new fiber you will have to proof it with a suitable pig or rod. You also have to be able to find all of the interim access points. I am pretty sure that at least for the broadwing and wiltel routes that there was at least one empty duct placed during construction. In some cases where they seem to be transitioning off these routes there has been some activity in selling some of the ducts.

  • Brian Scully says:

    L3 I believe is still sitting on 7-9 extra conduits from their original 16k mile build. I don’t believe any of their 05-06 acquisitions have additional conduits.

    • Rob Powell says:

      I do believe WilTel had some extra conduit – not nationwide, but on some of the routes they self-built.

      Qwest surely has one or two nationally. Level 3 does have at least half a dozen on their original build, but it only takes one for now (if the economics support it at all).

  • Brian Scully says:

    I will assume this is 3rd generation NZDSF. For the non-engineer, does this allow for the reduction in number of amplifiers needed? I believe currently most are assuming every 60 miles or a total of 360 miles before regen is needed.

  • Carlk says:

    Within the past two years, subsequent to Bwng and Wiltel acquisitions, Crowe has confirmed 11 empty conduits nationally. Like Rob says, it only takes one assuming “the math” works out.

  • Carlk says:

    Personally, I think the best test for this newest Corning fiber would be a private pipe for the US Govt. to smoke. At the same time, The Govt. can make down payments on five other empty pipes representing 50 years of forward time or ten years each, in order to house future “strategic reserve supplies” of fiber as it is created.

    “You can’t be too rich, too thin, or own too much fiber.” James Q. Crowe quoting somebody!

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