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Innovation to lower African telecoms costs

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Telecom and cable television operators in Africa are set to improve on quality and increase their reach, thanks to an affordable innovation from the Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) that enables data transmission over a distance of 10 000km using realtime processing prototypes of a cost-effective 300Gbps.

ASN which is the undersea cables subsidiary of Alcatel-Lucent, earmarks this new modulation technology to help optimise the performance of submarine cable systems whose introduction in Africa has seen the costs of internet and other telecom related services slashed by almost half and further helping deepening the adoption of technology.

The trial has been achieved on the 10,000km of ASN’s test bed, combining the innovative 300G 8QAM (8 quadrature amplitude modulation) technology of ASN’s 1620 SOFTNODE platform and second-generation coherent submarine fibre (CSF-2).

8QAM technology can optimise both existing and new undersea cable systems, enabling operators to deliver more than 15Tbps per fibre pair on transoceanic systems – equivalent to 2,25-million HDTV channels streamed simultaneously. The timing of the technology seems appropriate for the continent as most countries race towards migrating their broadcast channels from analogue to digital to meet the set global switchover deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union ITU.

Olivier Gautheron, CTO of Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks says: “This breakthrough underlines ASN’s strategic focus in R&D to raise the bar for undersea fibre-optic technology. Our researchers continue to develop new solutions to further apply our own innovation to help traditional and web-scale operators cope with increasing requirements for speed, capacity and cost-effectiveness.”

Leveraging the largest research and development capabilities in the submarine cable industry, in Villarceux, France, ASN has achieved several breakthroughs in both repeatered and unrepeatered submarine cable systems. This new record is the latest in a long series of two dozen records over the past 20 years, all showcasing breakthroughs that have transformed long distance data transmission.

Fibre optic wire carries much more information and at a faster speed than conventional copper wire and is far less subject to breaks in communications. It is widely used by telephone companies around the world for long-distance lines. Because fibre optic transmits larger volumes of information (data and voice) at a higher speed, it makes internet and telecommunications more affordable than satellite does.