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CityFibre Launch First 800Gbps Backbone Ring to Serve UK Cities

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 (11:36 am) - Score 4,296
CityFibre Cabinet Fibre feed

Fibre optic network builder CityFibre, which aims to cover around 8 million UK premises with their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP network by the end of 2025, has partnered with Ciena to deploy its “first” 800Gbps capable backbone wavelength ring network across 29 cities and towns.

The move forms part of the operator’s planned “multi-terabit national [backbone] DWDM project” (i.e. boosting network capacity and performance). The 800Gbps ring is thus described as being merely their “initial” deployment, which will help to serve some 23 cities and towns, including 6 so-called “super core” sites in 2021.

NOTE: DWDM is short for the long-established method of Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing, which in simple terms uses the different colours of laser light to transmit more information at the same time. This is a common technology.

The first ring will thus be connecting Leicester, Peterborough, Cambridge, London, Milton Keynes and Northampton. We understand that this will then be “swiftly” followed with two further rings, providing the same enhanced core capacity between Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, Bristol, Coventry and London.

With an additional 90 locations then due to be added before the end of 2023, this will reflect the first phase of a national, multi-terabit, DWDM network deployment. Once complete, CityFibre will own and operate a “high availability, fully scalable backbone“, enabled by Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme programmable 800G coherent optics, 6500 Reconfigurable Line System (RLS) and Manage, Control, Plan (MCP) intelligent domain controller.

With fully diverse routing throughout, the network will connect CityFibre’s own fibre exchanges and ring-based access networks to leading third party datacentres and points of interconnect. The Full Fibre network will support virtually unlimited data transfer requirements for the future enabling a fully automated, cloud-based platform with open access API integration,” said the operator.

The use of Colourless, Directionless, Contentionless (CDC) optical technology should also help it to build a network that is better by design, which in the future will enable CityFibre to offer open access, high bandwidth Ethernet and wavelength services of up to 400Gbps to be wholesaled.

David Tomalin, Group CTO at CityFibre, said:

“A significant challenge for service providers today is securing scalable, reliable and independent national service aggregation. Constrained by legacy footprints, poor SLA’s and lack of innovation. This investment will create a superior, physically diverse network alternative, whilst raising the service experience bar for our industry.

We are already using full CDC in all our major nodes and will scale this across our entire backbone network over time. Its automation capability will enable additional rapid network restoration in the event of fibre or hardware failure, plus greater flexibility to grow capacity, balance, and re-programme our network based on the evolving needs of our customers.”

All of this is ultimately about ensuring that, as Cityfibre’s network grows, they will still have the capacity to feed the rising demands of both their residential and business customers, while hopefully also helping to keep their costs down through more efficient management of the network.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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12 Responses
  1. El Guapo says:

    Very nice. I do wonder how many will be served by 800Gbps. Sounds like a lot, but it’s not in the grand scheme of things. But more backbones in the UK can only be a good thing.

    1. anonymous says:

      For now most of the traffic will be offloaded to service providers locally, it won’t use the ring.

    2. Marek says:

      No one directly, this is their backbone network moving traffic between cities and peering points…

  2. NE555 says:

    It’s a lot for now.

    The whole of Talktalk with ~4 million customers peaked at around 6Tbps in 2020:
    https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2020/06/fortnite-season-3-sends-talktalk-isp-traffic-to-peak-of-6-12tbps.html

    1. James says:

      It’s not obvious in the article, but isn’t it 800Gbps *per wavelength* (based on the use of coherent optics) and presumably the system can handle many dozens of wavelengths so the system capacity could well exceed 20-30Tbps. 800Gbps per wavelength is impressive.

    2. John says:

      I am currently building a 100gb dwdm network, which has 96 wavelengths. So if this is a similar amount of channels that’s a lot of capacity!

    3. Anon says:

      This is 800G long haul wavelengths so on the limit of current technology.

      In relation to the TalkTalk article this number isn’t comparable. The 6Tbps number is the amount of traffic delivered to end users. A lot of this will come from in regional caches. It’s very unlikely they are doing 6Tbps of customer traffic across their optical backbone.

    4. anonymous says:

      Needs 102 GHz per 800G so won’t carry as many lambda as lower capacity optical networks but no idea how many Ciena can get onto a fibre pair right now.

      People might note that Zen among others are extending their reach as this backbone is being built. I’m sure others will be taking advantage of the ability to have CityFibre deliver traffic from several FEX to a single hand-off.

    5. Jim H says:

      This is their RLS system so is C-band for now but L-band expansion is also supported so this is quite a lot of multiples of 800G *per fibre*.

  3. TrueFibre says:

    That’s mind blowing that shows you the power of full fibre 800Gbps

  4. Stephen says:

    They need to start rolling out giga bit to Ryal areas like in Cornwall I never see Padstow mentioned on any of those lists for gigabit broadband its a joke

    1. The Facts says:

      Padstow is in the Openreach plans.

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