NEC released a submarine cable with a record 20 pairs of optical fibers

Optical fibers in the SEA-ME-WE 5 submarine cable connecting Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe. Photo: Boris Horvat / AFP via Getty Images

Japanese NEC and its subsidiary OCC Corporation completed development and testing of underwater repeaters and optical cable with 20 pairs of optical fibers (40 fibers). This is a new world record.

The previous achievement also belonged to NEC – a cable with 16 pairs, and soon NEC promises to release repeaters and cables “for 24 pairs or more.”

NEC has reached this milestone by only slightly changing its proven designs of repeaters and cables, the press release said. This is done by optimizing the key components of the repeater, as well as proving that the existing cable design can easily accommodate more fibers.

NEC multi-layer submarine cable

Repeaters with 20 fiber pairs continue to use the quadruple pump sharing technology, first introduced by NEC in 2010, to provide high optical and electrical efficiency.

NEC repeaters with four signal amplifiers are located at the OCC factory in Kitakyushu (Japan). These repeaters were manufactured for Google’s FASTER underwater route across the Atlantic. Photo taken July 9, 2015

Mass production of repeaters and optical cable of a new brand has already begun.

It is believed that today the most advanced cables on intercontinental channels belong to Google – these are Equiano and Dunant channels, which the company is now laying between the eastern coast of the United States and France, as well as between Portugal and South Africa, respectively. These cables have 12 pairs of optical fibers.

Subcom Fiber Optic Cable Kit. Photo: Brian Smith / Subcom

The bandwidth of the 12-pair Dunant is declared at 250 Tbps. Google has already announced a cable with 24 pairs of optical fibers. The latest cable models from Google and Subcom use dense wavelength division multiplexing technology, which allows information to be transmitted over a single fiber over more than 100 wavelengths.

Spooling of optical fiber in the hold of a Subcom marine layman. Photo: Bill Gallery / Subcom

Submarine cabling is an exceptionally fast-growing market. According to the report Global Submarine Fiber Cable Market 2020The largest manufacturers of submarine cables are now the following companies:

  • ASN
  • TE Subcom
  • Nec
  • Prysmian
  • Nexans
  • Hengtong
  • Zhongtian

Subcom Reliance Class Cable Layer Photo: Subcom

Telecommunications giants NEC, TE Subcom and Alcatel-Lucent have recently been under increasing pressure from large IT companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, which want to participate in cable development and in laying underwater communication channels.

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