Total Telecom met up with Jamie Jefferies to discuss the emerging trends in the subsea sector

The Adaptive NetworkTM. Overland and Undersea

What trends are you noticing developing in the industry at the moment?
The Internet Content Providers (ICPs) are driving the majority of submarine network capacity increases, primarily for Data Centre Interconnect (DCI) applications, and show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. They also continue to invest in new submarine cables in most parts of the world to address increased DCI bandwidth demands, increased route diversity, and to feed their new data centres being constructed around the world. The increased adoption of open cables, where the terminal/modem vendor is different from the wet plant vendor enabling best-in-breed submarine networks, is driving the industry need for standardized acceptance procedures and testing. As the industry approaches the Shannon Limit, the maximum amount of information that can be carried in a fibre pair, new ideas are coming to the forefront of discussion, and debate. One such technology is called Spatial Division Multiplexing (SDM), whereby more fibre pairs are integrated into a submarine cable with each pair carrying less traffic than existing cable designs, but yield a higher total capacity with the stated benefits of improved capacity and economics. SDM is a very hot topic today. Analytics based on artificial intelligence and machine learning is also finding its way into the submarine networking industry to a more adaptive network that can respond to issues in a more proactive, rather than reactive, manner.
What new technologies are you particularly interested in at the moment?
SDM is an interesting technology that’s a very hot topic today and will surely continue to be discussed and debated going forward, as it’s one method of side-stepping the Shannon Limit. The increased rollout of programmable network infrastructure and open application programming interfaces enable a network platform to facilitating software innovation that allows operators to build more intelligent, autonomous, automated, and adaptive networks. Submarine modem development continues unabated that will soon allow for rates in far excess of 100Gbps per channel so prevalent today in transoceanic networks.
What projects are you currently involved in and how will they help to develop connectivity?
We’re developing solutions that target the entire end-to-end transcontinental networking industry, overland and undersea. Our key development areas include modems, analytics, automation, open APIs, and highly instrumented networks. We firmly believe that the future of networking is a more adaptive network that fully leverages closed-loop automation for more autonomous networks that intercept the application requirements of today and well into the future.
What role will AI play in governing subsea telecoms networks in the future?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already here and is helping submarine cable operators to “listen to their network” and determine its health in real-time. This is achieved with highly instrumented networks that are polled for data in real-time and then fed into analytics engines leveraging machine learning that yield actionable insights. The actions taken can be through human intervention or increasingly through autonomous intervention. The more open, programmable, and instrumented networks become, the more they become a programmable platform that allows for accelerated software innovation to take place. We’re already seeing the first steps taking place today in live customer networks.
What predictions do you have for the industry over the course of the next 12-18 months?
AI will continue to make inroads into the submarine networking industry and will allow operators to build networks that facilitate software innovation for competitive advantage. SDM will gain in popularity, as the industry rapidly approaches the Shannon Limit and ways to side-step it will gain increased attention, and perhaps adoption. Increased spectral efficiency will also continue unabated through the development of new modem technology, albeit in smaller increments than the industry has enjoyed for a decade as we’re coming up against immovable laws of physics.
Come and join Ciena at Submarine Networks EMEA 2019 to learn how to master complexity and make your submarine networks more intelligent and future-ready. CLICK HERE for a full agenda and details of how you can be involved.