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5 May 2011 
A project to enable one terabit transmission over an optical wavelength has been announced by a consortium of Israeli companies and universities. The Tera Santa Consortium will develop a terabit optical platform using orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) .
 
Operators are only now deploying 100Gbps optical light paths, but the industry is already exploring how to achieve 400Gbps and 1Tbps DWDM data rates. “If 100 gigabit is starting to be deployed, within five years we’ll start to see links with tenfold that capacity, meaning one terabit,” says Shai Stein, chairman of the Tera Santa Consortium and ECI Telecom’s CTO.
 
At present the C-band of optical fibre can support 80 wavelengths at 100Gbps – 8Tbps – for long-haul transmission.  Using ODFM and imprinting data on multiple tones across each channel, 1Tbps wavelengths will boost transmission capacity to some 23Tbps, with each 1Tbps light path fitting within a 175GHz-wide channel.
 
The consortium will develop key technologies needed for terabit transmission. Research topics include high-speed design techniques using high-order quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) constellations, using digital signal processing (DSP) techniques to address optical impairments caused by long-distance transmission over optical fibre, and maximizing system spectral efficiency. The technologies to be developed include novel DSP architectures and algorithms, compact analogue and optical components and photonic integrated circuits.
 
Taking part in the project are ECI Telecom, the Israeli subsidiary of Finisar, MultiPhy, Civcom, Orckit-Corrigent, Elisra-Elbit, Optiway and 12 research groups at five Israeli universities. 
 
The project is funded by the Israeli Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) via the Magnet programme and will be completed in the next 3—5 years. After three years the consortium will demonstrate the project's achievements. “If the achievements justify continuation I believe we will get it [a funding extension],” says Stern. “We have a lot to do to get to this milestone.” 
 
Project funding for the three years is estimated at $25m (€17m). The OCS is providing NIS 50m (€10m) via the Magnet programme, described as over half the funding, with the project members providing the rest.
 
By Roy Rubenstein