For fibre flexibility and automation all roads lead to ROADM
It’s no secret that fibre-based service providers need to become increasingly flexible in their offerings if they are to keep pace with growing demand amongst new and existing customers. Carriers need to enable capacity availability to be changed dynamically according to customer needs. Traditional manual processes are too expensive and too slow to address this need so a new approach is needed, as BICS is demonstrating with its adoption of reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (ROADM) technology in its European backbone network to meet customers’ needs efficiently.
“The main reason to choose ROADM was not actually a choice; it is a necessity for us to continue to be competitive and so this was identified as part of our long-term strategy,” says Ievgen Martsin, product manager, at BICS. “Without ROADM we would be limiting the opportunity to reach our ambitious goals.”
ROADM really is that important to wavelength providers who currently need to send engineers on-site to set up a physical connection every time their customers’ requirements change. ROADM enables them to work remotely and ultimately automate reconfigurations. This can potentially save wavelength providers a lot of resources, such as time and money, while significantly decreasing the delivery time.
Aida Fernandez, the head of Capacity Product Management at BICS, explains that the carrier’s customers’ journeys will be improved by enabling more flexibility, quicker deployment and restoration capabilities via its point-to-point layer 1 lines in Europe.
An additional benefit of ROADM technology is that it enables better usage of BICS’ installed capacity, making higher bandwidth proposals possible. Customers will notice the difference in the speed and flexibility of delivery, which will also see less operational action being taken during the provisioning process thanks to the remote provisioning capability enabled by ROADM. Provisioning time will be substantially reduced in comparison to current durations.
A further benefit is improved restoration capabilities. ROADM enables dynamic restoration, thereby making the possibility of automatic restorations a reality for customers. “We will be able to provide protection and restoration features that are, in some cases, not possible for us to provide today due to platform and physical limitations of the single-mode fibre,” says Martsin. “Today, restoration and protection involve manual intervention and that has to be reduced to keep the cost of services competitive.”
Although the advantages of ROADM are clear, deployment of the technology is a massive undertaking. “This is the first step to automation as ROADM allows automation of something physical but it is a very complex project,” says Fernandez. “It involves almost every on-site location in Europe and aims to enable ROADM capabilities in our complete dense wave division multiplexing/optical transport network (DWDM/OTN). This will impact more than 100 network devices and involve several months of work for our engineering and deployment teams.”
BICS’ goal with the project is to create a future-proof network with ROADM to be deployed across the BICS layer 1 network during 2020, subject to impacts caused by COVID-19 lockdowns.
“This project is also a first step for us in terms of the foundation to automate the whole wavelength offering in Europe, following our current efforts with L2/L3 automation so that we can deliver BICS as a service, even for physical connectivity services,” she adds.