Alien Wavelengths Aren’t So Strange

Service providers are often reluctant to introduce an alien wavelength into their network because they are unknown and introduce uncertainty into the network, situations they are conditioned to avoid, but there’s no need to be afraid.  Typical objections include ‘They’ll interfere with my existing channels’ and ‘I won’t be able to manage it’ but, if implemented correctly, service providers can actually realize substantial benefits like increased capacity and lower cost that improve service margins and profitability.  Alien wavelengths help you reach new customers and deliver more services.  What’s more, they help you optimize the infrastructure resources you already have and reclaim valuable spectrum with greater efficiency. 

Alien wavelengths are not a geographically-restricted application in the typical sense, they’re more of a ‘super-application’ unbounded by distance and whose utility spans across all network segments from access and DCI to ultra-long haul, whether terrestrial or submarine.  Basically, they allow you to add capacity anywhere you need it whether it’s on a single span or throughout the entire network.


So why would a service provider add another vendor to an existing line system?  While the incumbent vendor may view them as an invasive species, alien wavelengths introduce healthy bandwidth growth.  They can be used to extend the life of congested networks, speed time to market and reduce CAPEX.  They allow the service provider to introduce a second vendor seamlessly into the network while protecting their investment in the incumbent network without disrupting existing services or network operations.  Alien wavelength break single-vendor vendor lock-in and offer a working option to overcome issues and obstacles the provider may be experiencing with the incumbent.

These obstacles can include platform obsolescence in which the incumbent network has been in place for so long that they are no longer offering new features like 100G+ coherent line rates or encryption capability. In other cases, the system simply may not provide the performance needed (i.e., OSNR tolerance) necessary to reach a new location at the required capacity level.  Another obstacle may be related to platform security where, in some markets, the incumbent vendor may now be seen as a security risk or is under some level of governmental restriction or prohibition and can no longer be deployed in the network.

As far as operations go, while service providers are right to be concerned about the impact on existing traffic, alien wavelengths can actually be quite easy to deploy.  Alien waves are point-to-point in nature boosting capacity on specific spans or routes so all that’s needed is a small shelf at either end of the link and management connectivity to the near-end device.  From there it’s just a matter of connecting to an available filter port, turning up the equipment and tuning to the correct wavelength.  In-band management connectivity is provided by a data communications channel (DCC)—or generic communications channel (GCC) in the case of an OTN link—and connects the far-end device for full remote end-to-end control with a northbound interface for integration into higher layer OSS/BSS systems.  Properly planned and integrated and with the right management tools, there should be no network or service impact from deploying an alien wavelength.


One way to alleviate any fear about this approach is by choosing a vendor that has an extensive track record of deployment and knows all the ins and outs of dealing with all the different line systems in networks today and can help manage the integration so everything goes smoothly.  So if you need to upgrade the bandwidth on your network but feel boxed in by your current vendor, consider using alien wavelengths.  It’s not such an out-of-this world concept as you may think.


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Solution Brief:
Alien Wavelength Solution Brief