Microsoft announced it has acquired Lumenisity® Limited, a leader in next-generation hollow core fiber (HCF) solutions. Lumenisity’s innovative and industry-leading HCF product can enable fast, reliable and secure networking for global, enterprise and large-scale organizations.
The acquisition will expand Microsoft’s ability to further optimize its global cloud infrastructure and serve Microsoft’s Cloud Platform and Services customers with strict latency and security requirements. The technology can provide benefits across a broad range of industries including healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, retail and government.
Organizations within these sectors could see significant benefit from HCF solutions as they rely on networks and datacenters that require high-speed transactions, enhanced security, increased bandwidth and high-capacity communications. For the public sector, HCF could provide enhanced security and intrusion detection for federal and local governments across the globe. In healthcare, because HCF can accommodate the size and volume of large data sets, it could help accelerate medical image retrieval, facilitating providers’ ability to ingest, persist and share medical imaging data in the cloud. And with the rise of the digital economy, HCF could help international financial institutions seeking fast, secure transactions across a broad geographic region.
Types of Hollow Core Fiber:
Various types of hollow-core photonic bandgap fibers:
(a) Photonic crystal fiber featuring small hollow core surrounded by a periodic array of large air holes.
(b) Microstructured fiber featuring medium-sized hollow core surrounded by several rings of small air holes separated by nano-size bridges.
(c) Bragg fiber featuring large hollow core surrounded by a periodic sequence of high and low refractive index layers
Lumenisity HCF benefits:
Lumenisity’s hollow core fiber technology replaces the standard glass core in a fiber cable with an air-filled chamber. According to Microsoft, light travels through air 47% faster than glass. Lumenisity’s next generation of HCF uses a proprietary design where light propagates in an air core, which has significant advantages over traditional cable built with a solid core of glass, including:
- Increased overall speed and lower latency as light travels through HCF 47% faster than standard silica glass.
- Enhanced security and intrusion detection due to Lumenisity’s innovative inner structure.
- Lower costs, increased bandwidth and enhanced network quality due to elimination of fiber nonlinearities and broader spectrum.
- Potential for ultra-low signal loss enabling deployment over longer distances without repeaters.
Lumenisity was formed in 2017 as a spinoff from the world-renowned Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton to commercialize breakthroughs in the development of hollow core optical fiber. In 2021 and 2022, the company won the Best Fibre Component Product for their NANF® CoreSmart® HCF cable in the European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC) Exhibition Industry Awards. As part of the Lumenisity acquisition, Microsoft plans to utilize the organization’s technology and team of industry-leading experts to accelerate innovations in networking and infrastructure.
Lumenisity said: “We are proud to be acquired by a company with a shared vision that will accelerate our progress in the hollow-core space. This is the end of the beginning, and we are excited to start our new chapter as part of Microsoft to fulfill this technology’s full potential and continue our pursuit of unlocking new capabilities in communication networks.”
The purchase is also noteworthy in light of Microsoft’s other recent acquisitions in the telecommunications sector, which include Affirmed Networks, Metaswitch Networks and AT&T’s core network operations (including 5G SA Core Network).
Microsoft isn’t the only company interested in HCF technology and Lumenisity. Both BT in the UK and Comcast in the US have tested Lumenisity’s offerings.
Comcast announced in April it was able to support speeds in the range of 10 Gbit/s to 400 Gbit/s over a 40km “hybrid” connection in Philadelphia that utilized legacy fiber and the new hollow core fiber. Comcast worked with Lumenisity.
“As we continue to develop and deploy technology to deliver 10G, multigigabit performance to tens of millions of homes, hollow core fiber will help to ensure that the network powering those experiences is among the most advanced and highest performing in the world,” said Comcast networking chief Elad Nafshi in the release issued in April.