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The amount of data generated in our digitalised world is growing at unimaginable rates. In fact, data storage company Seagate estimated that around 175 zettabytes of data will be created by 2025. This figure is the result of technological development, in the form of cloud and artificial intelligence solutions, but also of video streaming and social media. To support these bandwidth demanding applications, the network and fibre infrastructure needs to be constantly optimised. Here, Marcin Bala, CTO at telecommunications networks specialist Salumanus Ltd, explains how muxponders can contribute to maximising bandwidth.


175 zettabytes of data might not sound astonishing to average telecommunications users, but to put it into perspective, downloading this amount of data would take 1.8 billion users. More than half of this number, 51 per cent, is stored in data centres, while the rest is in public cloud platforms. So, how can service providers and business keep up with the increased demand for data transmission and storage?


Infrastructure requirements

With the increase volume of data, carriers and enterprises need to find optimal solutions to upgrade their network infrastructure, while making it more reliable in the event of fibre failures and flexible to cater to various users’ requirements. At the same time, modern infrastructure will also need to comply with environmental standards, which implies keeping the power consumption and noises as low as possible. 


Another aspect service providers need to consider when optimising their infrastructure is cost, by investing in compact technologies that save rack space and reduce the costs of leasing server rooms. This is particularly important for data centre operators who need to store large amounts of data in a limited environment. 


Companies should also consider the ease of maintenance and management and the scalability of their solutions, which have a significant impact on their ability to activate new services using existing technical staff. WDM technology might be the answer to all these challenges. 


WDM for multiplexing 

Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) allows providers to aggregate several services over the same fibre without the need to pay for extra fibres. It works by taking multiple input signals and combining or multiplexing them together onto a single, common line output. At the other end of the fibre, the streams are separated into different channels again, a process referred to as demultiplexing. 


This technology uses passive modules that require no power and take up little space, making them ideal for modern network infrastructures and green data centre interconnectivity. 


WDM solutions can either be Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing (CWDM) or Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM). 


With CWDM, data is transmitted through optical fibres, each signal being sent over its own wavelength. A maximum of 18 channels of different services can be transmitted over one optical fibre and up to 14Gbps can be transferred per wavelength over 80Km distance. Because of the large distance between the central wavelength and each channel, of 20 nanometres, CWDM cannot be amplified. For data centres, this means that data is unable to travel long distances and a limited number of channels will work over 40 kilometres. 


On the other hand, DWDM is a more accessible option for companies who want to scale up. Up to 96 channels can be transmitted over a single fibre with a capacity throughput of up to 200Gbps per port (or 64 channels, each with throughput 400Gbps), thus tremendously increasing the fibre capacity. Unlike CWDM, DWDM connections can be amplified using an optical amplifier, and therefore can be used for transmitting data at a much longer distance, even a few thousand kilometres.


DWDM technology is a more appropriate solution for large capacity data transport and connectivity over long distances and it is useful for densely populated data centres, especially hyperscale cloud service providers.

The role of muxponders

The WDM technique enables companies and service providers to significantly increase the potential capacity of a single fibre. If they assign a dedicated wavelength to each of their services, no matter whether it is Fibre Channel, Ethernet, SDH or OTN transmission, and then multiplex it, they can send a great number of data streams over the same fibre. However, they need to remember that different services require different optical spectra.


Today, the most used DWDM solutions are based on 100 GHz or 50 GHz grids. The number of channels available in such systems has been specified by ITU-T Recommendations. Thus, what should be done so as not to waste an optical channel for single services that require 10 Gbps?


Help comes in the form of muxponder technology which enables you to aggregate a great number of services in a single wavelength. For example, the PL-4000M Muxponder from PacketLight Networks offered by Salumanus delivers 400G capacity over a single wavelength in a 1U chassis, using 400G pluggable CFP2-DCO modules for coherent metro and long-haul applications. It can support high speed applications with 25/100/400Gb Ethernet and 16/32G Fibre Channel.


Utilising muxponders will reduce the number of transponders and optical line modules, such as CFPs, amplifiers and passive filters and in turn cut the costs associated with these. Since every port can be used for multiple types of services, management cost and CAPEX of the optical transport network will further be reduced. 

Muxponders also come in compact sizes, thus reducing the rack space needed, and they have a low power consumption. The PL-400M measures only 45mm (H) x 440mm (W) x 400mm (D) and weighs only 13 kilograms. On top of this, the muxponders from PacketLight Networks are equipped with Layer-1 encryption per uplink for highly secure data transport. 


While data transmission is growing at unprecedent rates, service providers need to optimise their infrastructure to improve their offer to their customers. WDM technology is the key to do so in an efficient and scalable way. However, to make the most of their investment in infrastructure, providers and companies can use muxponders for added benefits. Not only will these products help cut costs significantly, but they will also provide increased security and effective management. 


To learn more about WDM technology and muxponders, visit Salumanus at

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