'Shaky Isles' solution: Spark rolls out Ciena self-healing tech for backbone network

'Shaky Isles' solution: Spark rolls out Ciena self-healing tech for backbone network

First phase of a nationwide project completed, delivering not just service security but speed

The Kaikoura earthquakes in 2016 took out both the main trunk line and the fibre cable along it.

The Kaikoura earthquakes in 2016 took out both the main trunk line and the fibre cable along it.

Credit: Supplied

Spark has completed the first stage of its next generation optical transport network, including "self-healing" capabilities to automatically restore services after events such as the Kaikoura earthquakes.

The first piece of the new OTN 2 fibre network was installed between Glenfield and Papakura in Auckland, and is now live and operating at 800Gbit/s second, up from 100Gbit/s or 200 Gbit/s. 

The OTN is the fibre network that connects New Zealand’s cities and towns with high speed data links, providing the backbone and core connectivity between all the main cities in New Zealand.

It transports all customers’ mobile, broadband, landline, and  business customer traffic, as well as connecting Spark’s network with other  service providers and International cable networks. 

Spark said it was believed to be the first time self-healing capabilities had been deployed in New Zealand. (Note: Vodafone also announced a deal with Ciena this month and says it too has self healing tech as part of that deployment).

The project would also increase data capacity on Spark’s network by up to eight times, and support Spark’s 5G services.

Campbell Fraser, Spark’s technology tribe lead said that the roll out of OTN 2 would deliver increased resiliency enabling Spark to respond and restore service much faster after events such as the Kaikoura earthquakes. 

“Currently, restoring service is a manual process but the sharp growth in network traffic means manual restoration is becoming unmanageable," Fraser said.

"The optical restoration ‘self-healing’ technology allows the light signals that carry the data to automatically change their path after a fibre cut, so this is a big step forward. 

"We expect to be able to restore services much more quickly so we can get customers back up and running.”

The project would also help to address an increasing customer expectation of connectivity anytime, anywhere and growth in data consumption of 700 per cent since 2016.

Campbell Fraser (Spark)Credit: Supplied
Campbell Fraser (Spark)

“We know that the roll out of our 5G network will drive data consumption even higher as businesses and consumers across New Zealand start using 5G technology with its greater data capacity and speed," Fraser aid.

"It’s already common for business customers to ask for a 100 Gbit/s connection, whereas even five years ago 10Gbit/s connections were standard."

Spark selected Ciena to supply the hardware, software and services to design and build Spark’s OTN 2. 

“A self-healing and resilient network that can automatically fine tune capacity and dynamically adapt to evolving user demands and unexpected fibre cuts or natural disasters is critical in today’s digital-first environment,” said Rick Seeto, vice president and general manager of Asia-Pacific and Japan, Ciena.

“With Ciena’s WaveLogic 5, advanced network automation and intelligent restoration capabilities, Spark can quickly support 5G and IoT services and trailblaze their way into the next chapter of innovation.”

The OTN 2 roll out is a two-year project, which has started in Auckland, and will expand towards Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. Initially the new OTN equipment will be an express overlay to the existing core network, then will eventually replace the existing OTN.

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Tags TelecommunicationsCiena5Gspark



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