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BT starts trials of "revolutionary" fibre tech

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Trials of Lumenisity's hollow CoreSmartcore fibre are beginning at BT Labs in Adastral Park (pictured) in collaboration with Mavenir.

BT researchers are conducting trials at BT’s research and engineering campus in the east of England with Mavenir, using a 10-kilometre-long hollow core fibre cable provided by Lumenisity. Lumenisity was spun out of Southampton University.

As the name suggests, the new type of cable has a hollow, air-filled centre throughout the entire length of the cable.

Use cases

The hollow cable will be tested for a number of use cases, including for 5G and ultra-secure communications, like Quantum Key Distribution (QKD).
 
Networks across the world run single-mode optical fibre, pioneered at Adastral Park, which consists of solid strands of glass: transmission rates through glass are slower than through air by up to 50%.

This hollow fibre has an outer ring of glass, to guide the laser beam while maintaining signal speed close to the speed of light.

Working with Mavenir, a proponent of Open RAN, BT has shown that using hollow core fibre can increase the distance between street antennas and the back-end processing in exchanges.

Due to the low latencies, hollow core in the Radio Access Network (RAN) could reduce mobile network costs as more 5G antennas could be served from one exchange or cabinet.

World domination?

Professor Andrew Lord, BT’s Head of Optical Network Research, said, “This new type of fibre cable could play an important role in the future of the world’s communications infrastructure, heralding a step-change in capability and speed, to keep up with the demands for high-speed, low latency communications driven by 5G networks, streaming, and more.”
 
Mike Fake, Lumenisity’s Director responsible for Product Management, commented, “Lumenisity is delighted to be the supplier of field deployable CoreSmart hollowcore cable for these trials with BT. This is;evidence of the impact our unique low loss, high performing cables can have on the networks operated by our carrier partners.”
 
John Baker, Mavenir’s Senior Vice President Business Development, said, “The ability to extend the reach of fibre connected radios only further demonstrates the power of Open RAN and its ecosystem. This improvement will significantly increase the number of use cases that can be served from containerised cloud based Open RAN solution.”