TelstraClear proves bandwidth isn"t scarce

Von Paul Brislen

TelstraClear Ltd. has increased the capacity of its Auckland to Wellington fiber loops fourfold as well as pushing 10G bps (bits per second) capacity out to regional centers like Rotorua and Napier in addition to existing access in Hamilton, Palmerston North and Tauranga.

TelstraClear chief network architect Phil Rolle says the company is responding to customer demand for increased capacity. "We"re seeing more companies adopt gigabit WAN structures so they need far more capacity than ever before."

Rolle says the groundwork for the fiber network began about five years ago when the concentric circles of fiber between Auckland and Wellington were initially installed.

"We"re trying to stay a couple of years ahead of the customers" needs," he says.

TelstraClear spent NZ$10 million (US$7.1 million) on the upgrade, but has spent closer to NZ$200 million on the network itself overall. "Laying the fiber is the most expensive bit, but second to that is the regenerators and electronics at each end of the network."

TelstraClear deploys regenerators every 80 kilometers along the fiber loops to boost the signal.

Fortunately, says Rolle, having that infrastructure in place meant the upgrade was quite painless and relatively inexpensive.

Now TelstraClear has 10G bps per wavelength with 32 wavelengths on each fiber. Each cable has between 12 and 48 fibers.

"It all depends on when it was laid. We put down the fiber at a time when fiber itself was quite cheap, so it"s worked out well. It didn"t cost much more to lay in additional fibers."

Most of those fibers remain unlit, however, but Rolle doesn"t see that as a problem. The next upgrade to the network will be to jump from 10G bps per wavelength to 40G bps.

"As customers adopt distributed data centers we"re seeing demand for constant feeds between Auckland and Wellington." Rolle says the companies are using distributed centers as part of disaster recovery planning.

TelstraClear is aware of the need for increased capacity nationally, particularly in light of the Advanced Network being built for universities and crown research institutions. The contract for the network, which will connect 14 gigapops around New Zealand with a 1G bps backbone, is expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

"They"re really the first big customers for such a network. The telcos are first users obviously but research institutes are typically next."