Airtel and Ciena to Build One of the World’s Largest Photonic Control Plane Networks for delivering Ultra-fast Data over 4G, 5G and FTTH

Bharti Airtel, India’s leading telecommunications services provider, is deploying Ciena’s (NYSE: CIEN) coherent optical and intelligent software platforms to build one of the World’s Largest Photonic Control Plane networks in India.

Airtel’s new backbone network will serve the exploding demand for high speed data services. It will also enable super-fast broadband experiences over 4G/5G/FTTH architectures, making the most efficient use of available fiber resources. The deployment is part of Project Leap – Airtel’s network transformation program and will also enable a network that can quickly respond to simultaneous faults by re-computing and re-routing traffic based on available network resources.

Airtel’s new backbone architecture creates a solid foundation that can cut across technology generations to seamlessly work with data rates of 400Gbps and higher to create a future proof scalable network. In addition, the architecture offers lower latency and software-controlled connectivity for Cloud infrastructure, faster transformation to virtualized platforms, and 5G readiness – essential to a world of connected devices and things.

Randeep Sekhon, CTO – Bharti Airtel said: “Airtel has always pioneered the introduction of cutting-edge network technologies to serve its customers. We are pleased to work with Ciena to build one of world’s largest optical spine and leaf networks, which is also a big step towards 5G readiness by leveraging our huge fiber assets. This will not only scale our network for massive capacity but also protect traffic and enhance service delivery to all our customers. It will also help Airtel further strengthen its position as a key enabler of digital experiences in an increasingly connected world.”

Photonics combined with advanced software intelligence enables a smart and agile network that allows for simplified provisioning of end-to-end network wavelengths, speed and capability to handle multiple fiber failures thereby providing users uninterrupted ultra-high capacity service. The network will also support bandwidth on demand, optical VPNs, latency based routing and dynamic data center interconnects, which will provide a unique value proposition for Airtel’s retail and enterprise customers.

Ryan Perera, Vice President and General Manager, Ciena India said: “Airtel has an established reputation for embracing innovative technology to enrich the lives of its subscribers. The combination of Ciena’s coherent optical, advanced software and control plane capabilities gives Bharti a scalable and robust infrastructure that can dynamically adapt to keep up with ever-changing user demands.”

Airtel has been known for embracing cutting edge technology early on to have the first mover’s advantage and leading innovation in India. The architecture is inspired from the technology that helped data centers deliver scalability to match the ever-growing demand by users. In modern data centers, an alternative to the core/aggregation/access layer network topology has emerged known as leaf-spine, which is now extended to fiber optic-based backbone networks to enable lowest electrical touch points leveraging optical bypass capabilities for carrying large dataflows at the lowest cost per bit.

Airtel’s innovative architecture leverages Ciena’s 6500 Packet Optical platform powered by WaveLogic Ai coherent optics to provide a highly scalable, programmable infrastructure. Software control of Bharti’s network operations is greatly automated with Ciena’s Blue PlanetÒ Manage, Control and Plan domain controller, which expedites alarm and fault management, service provisioning, node backup and restoration. Additionally, with Ciena’s Liquid Spectrum analytics capability, the network can monitor, predict and address connectivity and capacity challenges as they occur.

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