CityFibre launches first 800 Gbps backbone ring

CityFibre, the UK’s largest independent Full Fibre platform, has announced the the successful deployment of its first 800 Gb/s backbone wavelength in partnership with leading network technology solutions vendor, Ciena. This is a key milestone on CityFibre’s path to building a Full Fibre digital infrastructure that will reach up to 8 million premises in the UK.

The initial 800 Gb/s wavelength serves 23 cities and towns and connects six ‘super core’ sites in Leicester, Peterborough Cambridge, Northampton, Milton Keynes and London. By the end of 2021, two further rings will be added, providing the same enhanced core capacity between Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, Bristol, Coventry and London.

With an additional 90 locations due to be added before the end of 2023, this is the first phase of a national, multi-terabit, Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (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.

CityFibre’s priority for this investment is to support the high-quality, efficient delivery of broadband, Ethernet and IP services across £4 billion investment programme. This includes scaling the new National Access product that launched earlier this month.

In addition to boosting regional aggregation capability, the use of Colourless, Directionless, Contentionless (CDC) optical technology will help it continue to build a network that is better by design, raising service experience benchmarks and enabling open access, high bandwidth Ethernet and wavelength services of up to 400 Gb/s to be wholesaled in the future.

David Tomalin, Group Chief Technology Officer at CityFibre, said: “A significant challenge for service providers today is securing scale and capability while constrained by a lack of diverse alternate national infrastructure and poor SLAs across the national backbone networks that aggregate locally delivered consumer services. 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.”

Jamie Jefferies, Vice President and General Manager, International at Ciena, commented: “Deploying Ciena’s coherent optic technology at scale will help CityFibre to provide market leading digital services across the UK. CityFibre have been tremendous to work with and our shared determination has allowed for us to move from design to delivery of this 800Gbps network in record time. CityFibre and its customers will benefit from the scalability and adaptability its network will possess, in particular because Ciena’s intelligent RLS CDC configuration leverages a modern modular software design that allows for open networking and maximum programmability. We look forward to a continued collaboration in the future.”


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