Uncoupled 4-core submarine fibre cable

6th October 2021
Tom Anstee

Sumitomo Electric has completed the first trial of its uncoupled 4-core submarine fibre cable and verified its transmission performance to meet the exacting demands of global telecommunications networks, as well as the latest space division multiplexing (SDM) technology.

International data usage is expected to expand by 30 to 40% in compound annual growth rate from 2020 to 2026, which will continue to be driven by factors such as 5G mobile data growth and the increasing need to content between data centres distributed around the world. To meet such demand, submarine networks are adopting space division multiplexing (SDM) technology, where the number of independent spatial channels is increased to maximise total system capacity, reduce power consumption, and optimise cost per bit.

Multicore fibre is now expected to further increase the number of parallel optical fibre cores without increasing the submarine cable size and structure, theferefore enabling the second generation of submarine systems.

The multicore fibre submarine cable features conventional single mode fibre has a single core within an individual fibre. In contrast, each multicore fibre contains multiple cores (4 cores in this case). This represents a four-fold enlargement in the number of spatial channels for the same amount of optical fibres and with the same fibre structure: each fibre being 250µm diameter (0.25mm) after coating.

The uncoupled 4-core fibre is being deployed within the OCC SC500 series LW (lightweight) cable, which has a 17mm outer diameter and withstands 8,000M water depth. This cable can accommodate up to 32 fibres. With multicore fibre, the number of cores can be increased without increasing the cable diameter, with corresponding benefits in the cost per bit of the cable system.

Transmission performance demonstration

NEC and OCC have demonstrated that the cable's optical transmission performance in the water fully meets the exacting requirements of modern long-haul submarine cables. They further showed that the process of cabling Sumitomo Electric's multicore fibre has no effect on its optical characteristics, achieving excellent attenuation properties.

This research was supported by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan, under the initiative 'Research and Development of Innovative Optical Network Technology for a Novel Social Infrastructure'. For more information, visit Sumito Electric's product page here.

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