IEIC Special Coverage | Steve Alexander

Ciena, Chief Technology Officer

Our customers have seen the equivalent of one-to-two years’ worth of traffic growth occur in just a few weeks. Additionally, traffic patterns have shifted to considerably earlier in the day and have become much more geographically-distributed with the work-, learn-, and entertain-from-home environments that much of the world finds itself in. Fortunately, our customers had already been steadily adding capacity and connectivity to their networks prior to the global pandemic, and as a result those networks are performing very well today. The phenomenon of Pokémon Go and widely streamed events, such as the Notre-Dame fire, had provided service providers early indicators of what sort of demands could be placed on their networks. Many responded to those challenges by putting in place plans to consistently grow their network capabilities. And, it is those additional capabilities that are now proving so critical to keeping the world functioning.

It is insightful to remember that when the Internet was just gaining in popularity in the mid-90s the commercial rate on optical fiber was typically 2.5 Gbit/s per fiber. Today we provide equipment that provides over 20 Tbit/s per fiber. That’s a 10,000:1 improvement in capacity in ~25 years. Optical communications has been one of the key technologies that has allowed the Internet to keep up with demand. There is a real sense of pride in knowing that technologies from Ciena have been instrumental in keeping the Internet growing and enabling the connectivity that is so important during COVID-19. The optically-powered Internet has grown to now form the essential fabric of our Global Digital economy.