Internet Traffic Trends and Network Pressure

Internet traffic and connected devices continue to grow. In North America, between 2017 and 2022, average broadband speeds are projected to grow 2.1x times to 94Mbps. Average Wi-Fi speeds are projected to grow 2.2x to 84Mbps, and average mobile connection speeds are projected to grow 2.6x to 42Mbps. The average smartphone will generate 14GB of traffic per month in 2022 – up 2.5x from 2017. [Source – Cisco VNI report]

The traffic mix is changing. Video will continue to dominate at 82% of all Internet traffic in 2022. However, there are significant new trends emerging. In the past few years, service providers have observed a pronounced increase in traffic associated with gaming. The launch of season 5 of Fortnite in July last year drove peak internet traffic overnight 5x to 37Tbps. Fortnite is only increasing in popularity with over 200 million registered players as of December 2018 and the recent announcement of a record $30M prize pool for the Fortnite World Cup. Online live Internet video also has the potential to drive large amounts of traffic as it replaces traditional broadcast viewing hours. According to Ooyala’s State of the Broadcast Industry 2019, sports are going to be a major catalyst for live streaming, and streaming is a much-needed solution for sports leagues that have seen a decline in ratings and ad revenues. Also of note is the growth of video surveillance traffic. This traffic is of a very different nature than live or on-demand streaming and represents a steady stream of upstream video camera traffic, uploaded continuously for commercial applications.

As Internet traffic grows and becomes more dynamic, optical transport networks for sub-sea, terrestrial long haul and metro need more capacity. The ability to deploy capacity quickly is equally important to handle the increasingly dynamic nature of the traffic. The concept of a multi-haul transport platform, as introduced by Andrew Schmitt of Cignal AI, becomes very appealing for achieving this ability to scale with speed while maintaining operational simplicity – a single platform for all requirements. A critical element of the multi-haul optical platform is the flexibility of the coherent optics to be tuned to fine granularity in order to meet the reach-capacity target of any given network.

Benefits of the Cisco NCS 1004

The Cisco NCS 1004 delivers multi-haul coherent DWDM transponders that provide state-of-the-art performance using granular baud-rate + bits per symbol tuning and time-hybrid modulation. Each 2RU form-factor NCS 1004, powered by Acacia’s Pico Digital Signal Processor chip, provides 8 coherent DWDM ports that operate from 100G to 600G. The FEC, baud-rate (or bits per symbol) and line rate combinations result in well over 6000 different ways to configure the NCS 1004 coherent DWDM trunk ports. Such flexibility is unprecedented. 

Verizon Trial

We partnered with Verizon to demonstrate the benefits of the granular control of the NCS 1004 in a real-world environment. Ten fibers in Verizon’s 80km Dallas loop were used with NCS 2000 SMR flex-grid ROADMs to build an 800km network. Channelized ASE noise loading was provided by NCS 2000 equipment.

Three scenarios were tested – 1) 400G over 10x80km i.e. 800km, 2) 500G over 5x80km i.e. 400km, 3) 600G over 80km. It is important to note that in the testing, we used a single transponder carrier per channel per Verizon’s request. For each scenario listed above, we lowered the baud-rate (raised bits per symbol) to trade off excess margin for more capacity.

For 400G over 800km, we started with the highest baud-rate possible at 71.7Gbd/s with a corresponding modulation of 3.88 bits/symbol. This gave us a Q-margin of 2db and fit into 87.5Ghz. We then traded off the excess margin on the link for additional capacity. The optimal point as per testing was 61.72Gbs/s with a corresponding modulation of 4.5 bits/symbol and Q-margin of 1db. This signal fit into 75Ghz and resulted in a fiber capacity of 25.6Tbps. This test was similarly repeated for 500G over 400km and 600G over 80km.

We achieved the following maximum capacities for Verizon’s network:

  • 25.6Tbps @ 400G over 800km with 75Ghz spacing
  • 32Tbps @ 500G over 400km with 75Ghz spacing
  • 35.4Tbps @ 600G over 80km with 81.25Ghz spacing

The below chart captures our test results for how we traded excess margin for more capacity in Verizon’s network.

After the successful completion of the tests, Glenn Wellbrock, Director of Transport, Verizon, commented, “We are happy to be the first to trial 600G on our metro network. More importantly, we were able to validate the highly granular control of the NCS 1004 to trade margin for capacity with 500G over 400km and 400G over 800km. This is a real customer advantage as we can now put significantly more capacity on a single fiber pair.”

Cisco is very excited about the results. We are moving very quickly to support our customer requests for more bandwidth and for the flexibility that multi-haul brings to maximize Verizon’s network.

Learn more about the Cisco NCS 1004, and visit us at the OFC conference next week, booth #5829.



Bill Gartner

Senior Vice President/GM

Optical Systems & Optics Group