Airtel deploys Ciena software to optimize its core network ahead of 5G, FTTH

Airtel will replace its traditional network with Ciena’s leaf spine architecture

Bharti Airtel, one of India’s top three telecom operators, said it has chosen US-based Ciena to supply the core technology on which its countrywide optical backbone will be managed.

The adoption of technology from Ciena — one of the original dotcom-era startups — will help Airtel adapt to the new age of 5G and fiber-to-the-home, said the Indian telecom company.

It will replace the current three tier network operated by telcos in India, which comprises the access layer, the aggregation layer and the core layer

“Airtel’s new backbone network will serve the exploding demand for high speed data services. It will also enable super-fast broadband experiences over 4G/5G/FTTH architectures, making the most efficient use of available fiber resources,” it said.

Ciena is credited with developing the world’s first “commercial dense wave division multiplexing system” — technology that can increase the data carrying capacity of a fiber network by 10-20 times.

The new technology will enable Airtel’s network to “quickly respond to simultaneous faults by re-computing and re-routing traffic based on available network resources” and help it manage data traffic of up to 400 Gbps, the company said.

“We are pleased to work with Ciena to build one of world’s largest optical spine and leaf networks, which is also a big step towards 5G readiness by leveraging our huge fiber assets,” said Randeep Sekhon, head of technology at Bharti Airtel.

“This will not only scale our network for massive capacity but also protect traffic and enhance service delivery to all our customers.”

New age core networks need to be ‘intelligent’ and ‘smart’ so that traffic congestion and network failures are automatically mitigated without the need for human intervention.

“The network will also support bandwidth on demand, optical VPNs, latency based routing and dynamic data center interconnects,” Airtel said.

The architecture is inspired from the technology that helped data centers deliver scalability to match the ever-growing demand by users, said Airtel.

“In modern data centers, an alternative to the core/aggregation/access layer network topology has emerged known as leaf-spine, which is now extended to fiber optic-based backbone networks to enable lowest electrical touch points leveraging optical bypass capabilities for carrying large dataflows at the lowest cost per bit.”