Windstream Wholesale sets 400G ZR+ record using Acacia modules

Windstream Wholesale sets 400G ZR+ record using Acacia modules


Windstream Wholesale has completed a live network trial that successfully deployed 400G single-wavelength transmission over Windstream’s 1,027km network between Phoenix and Los Angeles.

The trial has been hailed as a real-world benchmark of 400G using Acacia Communications’ digital coherent optics technology, namely its 400G pluggable modules.

In addition to Windstream’s 400G benchmark, it also set another industry record by looping back the signal to achieve 300G transmission over 2,054km, also using Acacia pluggables.

“This record-setting accomplishment by Windstream Wholesale is a gamechanger for optical networks going forward,“ said Buddy Bayer (pictured), chief network officer at Windstream.

“We expect to begin deploying ZR+ coherent pluggable modules in the second half of 2021, a technology that has applicability in as many as 80% of our existing links.”

The optical performance results of the trial demonstrate that high-speed optical transmissions, such as 400G and 300G, can be deployed over Windstream’s network using compact pluggable modules.

Significantly smaller than comparable network electronics currently in use and up to 10 times more energy efficient, these pluggables enable deployment models that were not feasible with previous generations of long-reach optics. 

“Windstream has demonstrated that 400G pluggable coherent modules can support not only metro, but also regional and long-haul network applications,” said Benny Mikkelsen, founder and chief technology officer of Acacia Communications.

“Built on highly scalable technology that offers benefits in cost, size and power, we are excited about the opportunities for these pluggables in service provider networks.”

The news comes ahead of Acacia’s pending acquisition by Cisco which is set to accelerate this trend only further.

“Windstream is one of the first network providers to leverage the full capability of 400G pluggable optics in data centre interconnect to metro and long-haul applications,” added Bill Gartner, senior vice president of optics and optical at Cisco.

“With the emergence of 400G pluggable DWDM optics, we will be able to simplify network design and operations.”

According to Bayer, Acacia’s compact modules can be cost effectively deployed closer to the network edge than conventional electronics for a range of applications from 1000km long-haul segments to multi-span edge networks.

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