At long last, commercial 400GE is real via Windstream -Evergreen long haul optical circuit

IEEE 802.3‘s “400 Gb/s Ethernet Study Group” started working on the 400 Gbit/s generation standard in March 2013. Results from the study group were published and approved on March 27, 2014.  IEEE officially ratified its 802.3bs standard for 200G and 400G over Single Mode Fiber (SMF) and Multi Mode Fiber (MMF) on December 6, 2017.

Below are charts of recent IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standards development and the various option for 400GE over SMF or MMF:

ethernet standards development by year

Name Medium Tx Fibers Lanes Reach Encoding
400GBASE-SR16 MMF 16 16 x 25 Gbps 70 m (OM3)100 m (OM4) NRZ
400GBASE-DR4 SMF 4 4 x 100 Gbps 500 m PAM4
400GBASE-FR8 SMF 1 8 x 50 Gbps (WDM) 2 km PAM4
400GBASE-LR8 SMF 1 8 x 50 Gbps (WDM) 10 km PAM4
200GBASE-DR4 SMF 4 4 x 50 Gbps 500 m PAM4
200GBASE-FR4 SMF 1 4 x 50 Gbps (WDM) 2 km PAM4
200GBASE-LR4 SMF 1 4 x 50 Gbps (WDM) 10 km PAM4

Source:  IEEE 802.3

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There’s been much talk about 400GE since then with continued promised of “deployment this year,” primarily for Data Center Interconnect (DCI), Internet Data Exchange, and wholesale fiber service providers.  Now, it’s finally real!

Windstream Wholesale has begun deploying long haul 400 Gigabit Ethernet (400GE)  to link the regional teleco’s fiber network with Everstream’s Chicago-to-Cleveland route.  For this deployment, Windstream used Infinera’s Groove (GX) Series compact modular platforms and Juniper’s PTX Series transport routers. Windstream provided the 400G Wavelength Service using Infinera’s coherent wavelength technology.

The two primary customer segments for 400GE have been data center operators looking to interconnect two or more data centers, or service providers that want to build metro rings consisting of 400G lines on which they then would lease capacity to data center operators or enterprises through a data center interconnection (DCI) as-a-service offering.

“So this is not just an experiment,” said Buddy Bayer, chief network officer at Windstream. “This is a real world revenue generating circuit for us. We have a lot of peers in this industry that we talk to quite a bit, and there’s a lot of experimentation and lot of discussion going on around about 400 Gig. But this is the first one that we’ve really heard about where it’s a real circuit with real revenue behind it.”

                                                                              Source: Windstream Wholesale

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Bayer credited the work done in Windstream’s Little Rock lab earlier this year with Infinera for being able to boot up the commercial 400GbE connection with Everstream. In April, Windstream Holdings and Infinera paired 400GE with client-side services with commercially available 400GE-LR8 QSFP-DD compact pluggable interfaces. The trial used Infinera’s commercially available 2x 600G Wavelength muxponder on its Groove (GX) G30 Compact Modular Platform with the CHM-2T sled, which enabled the customer-facing 400GE service to be transmitted using a single-carrier 600G wavelength. Windstream has been aggressive about working with vendors such as Infinera and Ciena in its labs in order to provision 400G services.

“With the LR8, you now you have the optical reach for the long haul.  So going from seeing it in the lab environment to now getting it onto our network live with a real customer is pretty exciting. This kind of put us in the driver’s seat from our consumers’ perspective,” Bayer said. “We get to take all their questions and all their needs and put them right inside of those labs and trials and create solutions around them,” he added.

The introduction of Windstream’s 400 GbE Wavelength Service helps Everstream meet the relentless growing bandwidth demands from enterprises and provide the flexibility to support a wide variety of business-class services. The partnership enables Everstream to leverage the national footprint of Windstream’s advanced fiber-optic network and augment its high-demand route between Chicago and Cleveland. Windstream’s Wavelength Service product offering includes routes across its nationwide fiber network from 10GbE to 400GbE.

“Everstream is committed to continually enhancing our business-only network and expanding our partnerships to deliver a customer experience that is unmatched for even the most demanding enterprise requirements,” said Everstream President and CEO Brett Lindsey. “As our customers continue to scale, they need access to high-bandwidth, agile network solutions. This opportunity with Windstream enables us to consistently lead the market in providing the services that businesses demand with the reliability they need.”

“Windstream is committed to tapping into the latest technological innovation, enabling us to offer customers the benefits of ultra-efficient, high-capacity transport solutions across our network,” said Joe Scattareggia, executive vice president, Windstream Wholesale. “By partnering with Windstream Wholesale, regional service providers like Everstream have access to advanced national connectivity solutions to support the increasing bandwidth and capacity demands of their customers.”

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Cisco and Juniper have produced commercially available 400G for routers, but the optical network transport side has been slower on the uptake, according to Jimmy Yu, vice president and analyst for the optical transport market at Dell’Oro Group.

“So the fact that Everstream is going to be the first announced paying customer really speaks to the fact that they (Windstream) have gone full throttle on getting this not only up, but getting it running and getting a customer,” Yu said. “It does seem like they are kind of hitting the market first among service providers.”

Yu also pointed to Windstream’s work with Ciena for the build-out of Windstream’s new nationwide optical network, which is slated for turn up in the third quarter of this year.

Bayer and Yu expect 400G long-haul deployments will ramp up around the middle of next year after a few smaller launches near the end of this year. Bayer said the cost model for deploying 400G needs to come down for wide-scale adoption.

“I think the typical cost curve hasn’t kicked in yet,” Bayer said. “It’s supply and demand. As soon as there’s a demand on the 400G side, we’re going to see the cost come way down. You’re going to see cost models where it’s cheaper to turn up one 400 Gig as it is for turning up two 100 Gigs. We’re not there yet.

“The router blades are in the same supply and demand curves that the transport optics are in.”

Both Bayer and Yu said ZR pluggable optics, which will be for the longer spans of up to up to 120 kilometers, would start to become more widely available next year. Using ZR and ZR Plus pluggable optics allows service providers to eliminate transponders in the their WDM wavelength-division multiplexing) networks.

“IR8 is absolutely a good technology and it gave us the reach that we needed for 400 Gig, but ZR optics is another level of performance at a lower cost point,” Bayer said. “ZR is a lot lower cost point that’s going to be more appealing. I think that’s when you start to really see 400 Gig take off because now you can take that pluggable and put it in a router or transport gear. I think that’ll really kind of stir the nest for demand for 400G.

Yu said that while ZR is standards-based ZR Plus is not. ZR Plus could span up to 1,000 kilometers but may not fit on a switch or router.

“One of the advantages of ZR is everyone wants to put the pluggable on an Ethernet switch or router instead of on an optical system,” Yu said. “It’s not clear to me if ZR Plus can be put on a router or just go on an optical system but now it’s going to be more pluggable,” Yu added.

400G ZR and the longer-distance 400G ZR Plus will bring interoperability, and with that, potentially lower cost to 400G deployments as companies deploying 400G have more options to mix and match different vendors.

“ZR Plus will probably be generally available mid next year,” Bayer said. “ZR Plus is a lot lower cost point and that’s going to be more appealing. It’s not available to us yet, but as soon as it is we’re right in the labs and environments with it. We’re ready to go.”

References:

https://investor.windstream.com/news/news-details/2020/Everstream-Partners-with-Windstream-to-Bring-400GbE-Services-to-Market/default.aspx

 

Everstream Partners with Windstream to Bring 400GbE Services to Market

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/windstream-powers-up-live-400gbe-service-everstream

https://www.infinera.com/press-release/Windstream-Wholesale-and-Infinera-Successful-Trial-of-LR8-based-400GbE

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