Optical Wave Providers

I have been looking at optical wave carriers for some long haul 1G/10G across the US. All to major cities and well known POP's.
I am finding that there are not a lot of carriers who are offering wave services, usually just ethernet/MPLS.
Particularly across the North west.
Can someone shed some light on who some of the bigger carriers are and any challenges you have encountered with services like this?
Who actually owns the fiber across the US?



Zayo and Electric lightwave are two options, not sure who owns the fibre in the ground in each case.

Marty Strong

There are lots of national carriers in the US. A much smaller number
of those carriers actually own the fiber cables. There are a handful
(Zayo, Level3, CenturyLink, Windstream, Earthlink, Verizon) that have
very large national, or semi-national foot prints.

The carriers frequently trade and lease strands of fiber from each
other to create a national network. Be careful on the commodity routes
diversity wise. There are a lot of places with 20+ carriers in the
same cable (or duct) each claiming to own the route.


It is a good point about the conduit diversity. Lots of guys in the Wiltel conduit, for example. Right now there are a lot of new regional fiber optic networks and also some new dark fiber networks (one is connecting all the Trans-Atlantic landing stations and telecom hotels in New Jersey). There are always new networks emerging offer lower latency, new physical diversity or just new interesting routes.

- R.

(Speaking purely for myself, and thoroughly
demonstrating my relative ignorance on the
topic, but also opening up an opportunity
to become better educated...)

You may find that optical providers don't really
want to mix 1G/10G waves in on systems that
are running Nx100G waves on the fiber. With
100G coherent systems, optical dispersion
compensation is no longer necessary, as
the DSP on the receiving side takes care of
it. The 10G waves, on the other hand, would
need dispersion compensation along the run,
which increases the cost of building and
maintaining such a system, because they'd
have to peel off your 10G waves to periodically
do dispersion compensation, then add them
back in. It's far more cost effective for long
haul providers to carry the traffic as native 100G,
and provide the lower-speed handoff to you at
the endpoints via ethernet framing or MPLS.

It's not so much a matter of "not enough people
owning fiber across the US" as "Oh geez, you want
us to run our system in an inefficient and uneconomical
mode? Uh...maybe you could call those other guys
down the street instead." I suspect that if you ran
an experiment by calling for quotes and availability
for 100G waves between your endpoints you'd find
more availability for 100G waves than 10G or 1G
native waves.

(I'm half hoping to get a flurry of replies telling me
I'm completely wrong, and then explaining the real
issues to me. If nobody replies, it might mean I'm
not entirely wrong).



You probably should describe what you mean by "optical wave". If you mean "I want bit-transparent capacity with grey light handoff, that is not overbooked", then that's not really "optical wave". It will probably do what you want though (if I guess what it is you're looking for).

I have had good historical success by asking for STM64/OC192 and then run 10GBASE-LW (WAN-PHY) over it. If you want the provider to treat your bits as bits and not packets, don't even tell them you're running packets. If they're providing OC192, they don't need to know. Don't even give them the chance to do the wrong thing by telling them you're running WAN-PHY over it. They might configure their system to support WAN-PHY and all of a sudden their transponders/muxponders might now understand the packets you're running over OC192 and CRC check them and drop them without you noticing.

They don't need to know, so don't tell them.

You were not wrong on any particular point, but I don't think you may
have heard about muxponders previously.

I *think* technically it's TDM'd on the coloured side, but I'm not
sure... ODU/OTU stuff is somewhat removed from $dayjob. Someone might
want to correct me.

Have a look at the data sheet for the Ciena WaveServer though; it should
give a good idea of how this fits together. Of course, I'm sure more
comprehensive muxponder solutions are available for the [inter]national
carriers. :slight_smile:

You're not wrong, but you're not right for two reasons.

I believe the OP really wants a "transparent" service. It could
be a true wave, but it could also be a 10G channel muxed on a 100G
service. The properties they probably really care about are a raw
bitstream and guaranteed bandwidth. In the world of marketing and
sales speek with carriers this is a "wavelength" service, even if
it's not a true wavelength. Indeed, these services are often made
up of different underlying services end to end, a dark fiber tail,
a Nx10G local transport, muxed on to an Nx100G long haul transport,
and in reverse on the other end.

On the technical side of things there are plenty of carriers with
Nx10G systems across country that have not upgraded them to Nx100G
for any number of reasons, often they are 40-80% full of paying
customers and profitable. They are quite happy to sell an additional
10G wave and get more money out of their sunk cost. Indeed, if you
want a wave on the right path (read, paid for, with plenty of free
capacity) you can get waves for rock bottom prices.

To the OP's original point, major carriers that offer this class
of service include Level 3, CenturyLink, Zayo, and XO. Depending on
location there are regional carriers like LightTower, specialzed
providers IX Reach, or possibly even your favorite colocation provider
like Equinix or CoreSite. There's probably at least 30 more, many
don't advertise these services widely (low margin, requires clued
customer) but if you ask they are available.