CityFibre launches first 800Gbps infrastructure backbone ring

UK’s largest independent network provider announces 800Gbps ring, launched in collaboration with Ciena, to serve 23 cities and six ‘super core’ sites as part of a multi-terabit, national backbone project

Hot on the heels of Vodafone establishing the fast-growing former altnet as its anchor customer across the UK, CityFibre has announced what it says is a key milestone on the path to building a full-fibre digital infrastructure that will reach up to eight million premises in the country, with the successful deployment of its first 800Gbps backbone.

The move is the first phase of a national, multi-terabit dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) network deployment carried out in partnership with leading network technology supplier Ciena.

The initial 800Gbps wavelength will serve 23 cities and towns and connect six “super core” sites in 2021, with the first ring connecting Leicester, Peterborough, Cambridge, London, Milton Keynes and Northampton. This will be followed with two further rings, providing the same enhanced core capacity between Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, Bristol, Coventry and London.

With an additional 90 locations due to be added before the end of 2023, once complete, CityFibre will own and operate a high-availability, fully scalable backbone, enabled by Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme programmable 800G coherent optics, 6500 Reconfigurable Line System (RLS) and Manage, Control, Plan (MCP) intelligent domain controller.

With fully diverse routing throughout, the network will connect CityFibre’s own fibre exchanges and ring-based access networks to leading third-party datacentres and points of interconnect. CityFibre is confident that the full-fibre network will support “virtually unlimited” data transfer requirements for the future, enabling a fully automated, cloud-based platform with open access application programming interface integration. 

CityFibre’s priority for this investment is to support the high-quality, efficient delivery of broadband, Ethernet and IP services across its £4bn investment programme.

This includes scaling the new National Access product that launched earlier this month. In addition to boosting regional aggregation capability, the company says that the use of colourless, directionless, contentionless (CDC) optical technology will help it continue to build a network that is better by design, raising service experience benchmarks and enabling open access, high-bandwidth Ethernet and wavelength services of up to 400Gbps to be wholesaled in the future.

Read more about UK broadband

Commenting on the new move, David Tomalin, CityFibre group chief technology officer, said: “A significant challenge for service providers today is securing scalable, reliable and independent national service aggregation while constrained by legacy footprints, poor SLAs [service-level agreements] and lack of innovation. This investment will create a superior, physically diverse network alternative while raising the service experience bar for our industry.

“We are already using full CDC in all our major nodes, and will scale this across our entire backbone network over time,” he said. “Its automation capability will enable additional rapid network restoration in the event of fibre or hardware failure, plus greater flexibility to grow capacity, balance, and re-programme our network based on the evolving needs of our customers.”

Jamie Jefferies, vice-president and international general manager at Ciena, added: “Deploying Ciena’s coherent optic technology at scale will help CityFibre to provide market-leading digital services across the UK. CityFibre have been tremendous to work with and our shared determination has allowed for us to move from design to delivery of this 800Gbps network in record time.

“CityFibre and its customers will benefit from the scalability and adaptability its network will possess, in particular because Ciena’s intelligent RLS CDC configuration leverages a modern modular software design that allows for open networking and maximum programmability,” he said. “We look forward to a continued collaboration in the future.”

Read more on Internet infrastructure

Data Center
Data Management