Slicing and Dicing Subsea Fiber Networks

By: Paul Cannon

With the rising demand for Internet of Things (IoT) tethering our connected lives more and more, businesses are experiencing an increased need for higher bandwidth and better reliability. Although there are several options available, fiber optic cable provides faster, more effective throughput. Many global corporations, enterprises and businesses have discovered the benefits of fiber connectivity dedicated to their operations, enabling the next generation of IoT to provide optimal performance for businesses and their consumers alike.

However, smaller businesses have previously been at a disadvantage when it comes to utilizing optical fiber networks, specifically connecting to subsea cable networks. For some, despite the benefits, owning their own cable simply wasn’t financially feasible. This is why slicing and dicing fiber networks can become a viable and attractive option for enterprises to reap the benefits of high-quality, high-capacity optical fiber services.

Choosing the best route

Picture the subsea communications network as a major road network, the highway of the fiber networks. The subsea fiber is the highest-capacity, longest-distance path on the network. It’s the highway linking very large populations and countries. Think of it like data generating centers. Now, picture the slicing and dicing of the fiber spectrum, creating those individual lanes of that highway, with each lane carrying a different set of traffic. Yet, unlike an actual highway, each lane has an owner that has designated a specific endpoint. Also, any "crashes" seen by a particular user (for example, optical power fluctuations by any of the traffic) have no impact on any other traffic present on the network. They essentially only ever see their own lane and have no interference from nor interaction with any other traffic.

In a terrestrial environment, due to cost and availability, businesses have the option to run their own networks on their own fiber. Sharing their network is not an option. However, in a subsea environment, the overall expense—along with smaller fiber counts—causes the cost of ownership to be quite a bit pricier. Because the availability of such a network has only recently been accessible to large corporations, service providers now can grow and scale their businesses, taking on customers they may have previously not serviced. By sharing the spectrum, smaller enterprises can maximize the full value of the optical network infrastructure without the premium.

Availability of ownership

Sharing the subsea optical spectrum allows smaller enterprises to have availability of ownership of their optical network. In having their own part of the spectrum, enterprise service providers can essentially have their own fiber pair. Even though they do not “own” it, they can reap the benefits of the network as well as provide a route for the businesses they serve. Because of this advantage, these smaller enterprises can quickly scale without having to purchase the use of an entire cable. In addition, the benefit from the increased bandwidth and throughput of the fiber network gives them the support they need to direct their data from point of presence (PoP) to PoP. In other words, their business will operate more efficiently and more securely.

As the need for connectivity grows, the need for reliability, cost-effectiveness and security grows as well. It is important to note that sharing a cable with other enterprises in no way endangers the security of the information passed through each enterprises’ fiber pair. Effective optical power management is put into place to guarantee that any changes that happen on one end user’s spectrum do not impact the other end users that share the same fiber pair. Businesses can rest assured that their data is being transmitted securely through their spectrum on the subsea fiber network.

Provisioning of services and equipment

Traditionally, enterprises have been forced to rely on optical cable providers for services. Although many of these service providers can provision services quickly and effectively, they are also at the mercy of their own capabilities and may not have the perfect solution for each business’s needs. With spectrum sharing, businesses have


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