Advancing Data Transmission Rates to 800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s


Advancing Data Transmission Rates to 800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s

In the ever-evolving landscape of information and communication technologies, data transmission has become a crucial aspect of our interconnected world. The need for faster and more efficient communication has led to constant innovation in optical networking. One such breakthrough is the achievement of 800 Gigabit per second and 1.6 Terabit per second transmission speeds, which have set new standards for data transfer rates. In this article, I will delve into the significance of higher data rates of 800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s, summarize the progress made in establishing some of the relevant standards and explore sample field trials.

Why 800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s?

The demand for higher data transmission rates arises from several factors. As technology advances, we generate and consume vast amounts of data, both in personal and professional spheres. The proliferation of streaming services, cloud computing, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices has exponentially increased the need for faster and more reliable data transmission. This surge in data traffic necessitates pushing the boundaries of existing infrastructure and exploring new possibilities. The 800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s milestones represent a significant step forward in meeting these escalating demands.

Perhaps the highest demand for higher data rate transmission comes from hyperscalers. Hyperscalers, such as major cloud computing providers and large-scale data center operators, rely on massive amounts of data to meet the ever-increasing demands of their users and customers. These organizations handle and process enormous volumes of data, ranging from user-generated content, streaming media, social media interactions, financial transactions.

Data center interconnects represent some of the highest traffic networks. Interconnecting data centers enables load balancing and scalability. By distributing computing resources across multiple data centers, providers can handle increased demand and traffic more effectively. High speed data center interconnects also enable efficient data replication and backup, disaster recovery and business continuity, and geographical distribution or content delivery networking,

Progress in International standards for 800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s

To ensure compatibility and interoperability between different network components, standards play a crucial role. The progress made in establishing standards for 800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s transmission has been remarkable. Organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Multi-Source Agreement (MSA) and the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) are some of the standards organizations that have been actively involved in developing guidelines, protocols and interfaces to enable high-speed data transmission of 800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s.


IEEE work on 800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s is part of a wider effort on data rates of 400Gb/s and beyond. The IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group, the group responsible for all Ethernet standards, has divided the work on the higher data rate transmission into two task forces – the IEEE P802.3df 400 Gb/s and 800 Gb/s Ethernet Task Force, and the IEEE P802.3dj 200Gb/s, 400Gb/s, 800Gb/s, and 1.6Tb/s Ethernet Task Force. While the IEEE P802.3df task force focuses on short reach applications of up to 2km, the IEEE P802.3dj focuses on longer reach applications of up to 40km.

The two task forces together define the physical layer objectives for a wide range of distances – from very short distances of 50m over copper or multimode fiber to extended reach at 40km. Different configurations including parallel fibers, multiple wavelengths and single wavelength over single mode fiber are being defined. Some details can be found in the Ethernet alliance 2023 Ethernet roadmap.

800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s standards include but not limited to:
800Gbase-SR8 for up to 150m using 8 pairs of multimode fiber
800Gbase-FR4 for up to 2km using 4 wavelengths over single mode fiber
1.6Tbase-DR8 for up to 500m using 8 pairs of fiber over multimode fiber


The OIF is a non-profit organization that operates on an international scale, and comprises 130+ member companies, including leading carriers and vendors in the communication industry. Its main objective is to accelerate the implementation of optical internetworks and their associated technologies – routers and data switches interconnected by optical networking components. The organization aims to achieve this by fostering interoperability, cost-effectiveness, and robustness in optical internetworks.

To ensure global compatibility of optical internetworking products, the OIF actively supports and expands the efforts of national and international standards organizations. It establishes collaborative relationships or formal connections with various entities such as Ethernet Alliance, IEEE, and ITU.

The OIF focus is on long distance coherent systems. For example, OIF successfully led the wide adoption of DP-16QAM for 400Gb/s using the quad small factor double density (QSFP-DD) pluggable and concatenated forward error correction (C-FEC) in their 400ZR standard. Following up the 400ZR standard, OIF developed the 800LR (10km reach) and 800ZR (80km reach) standards using the DP-16QAM modulation and open FEC (oFEC) without any specified form factor for pluggables. The DWDM channel spacing for 800Gb/s was defined as 150GHz, which is double the 75GHz spacing for 400ZR.

The OIF is expected to continue working with IEEE and other standards organizations to develop 1.6Tb/s standards. The modulation format is expected to be DP-16QAM but the symbol rate is expected to double from 120-136Gb/s for 800Gb/s to 240-272Gb/s. This implies the doubling of the DWDM channel spacing to 300Ghz.


The MSA (Multi-Source Agreement) standards are a set of guidelines established by industry organizations to ensure interoperability and compatibility between different manufacturers’ networking equipment and optical transceivers. These standards play a crucial role in the telecommunications industry as they allow network operators to choose equipment and transceivers from different vendors while maintaining a high level of performance and reliability.

The MSA standards cover various aspects of optical transceivers, including form factors, electrical interfaces, and optical specifications. They define the physical dimensions and connectors used in transceiver modules, such as SFP, QSFP, and CFP. This standardization enables the seamless interchangeability of transceivers across different networking devices and facilitates their deployment and maintenance.

MSA compliant transceivers for 800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s include the following:

QSFP-DD Quad Small Form-factor Pluggable Double Density
OSFP Octal Small Form-factor Pluggable 
OSFP-XD Octal Small Form-factor Pluggable Extra Density 

800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s field trials

One important factor that standards organizations consider when developing communication standards is broad market potential. In other words, they consider the requirements and needs of various stakeholders in the market. Perhaps one indicator of broad market potential is the level of field trials undertaken by system vendors in collaboration with network providers – their customers. Since 2020, there has been a plethora of successful trials for 800Gb/s systems. We have already started to see 1.6Gb/s trials in 2023. The table below is a summary of some of the trials that have been completed.

Vendor  Network provider Year Data rate (Gb/s) Reach (km)
ADVA FUNET (Finnish University and Research Network) 2021 800 2,000
ADVA (Adtran) NYSERNet (A New York State ISP) 2023 800 2,200
CIENA Deutsche Telekom 2020 800 <100
CIENA Verizon 2020 800 N/A
CIENA Telus (Canada) 2020 800 970
CIENA Telstra 2020 800 1,000
CIENA OmanTel (Oman) 2021 800 N/A
CIENA Zayo 2021 800 N/A
Huawei China Mobile 2021 800 1100
Huawei Unnamed European tier 1 operator 2021 1600 180
Huawei MTN (South Africa) 2022 800 N/A
Huawei China Unicom 2022 800 N/A
Infinera N/A (network in North America) 2020 800 950
Infinera Telia Carrier 2020 800 2,396
Infinera Windstream 2020 800 730
Infinera Verizon 2020 800 667
Infinera GÉANT (Pan-European Data Network) 2021 800 N/A
Infinera Telstra Infraco 2023 800 1240
Infinera Liberty Networks 2023 800 N/A
Infinera Hawe Telekom (Poland) 2023 800 N/A
Nokia OpenColo (Data center colocation provider) 2023 800 N/A
Nokia and Huawei Telefonica 2021 800 47
ZTE China Unicom  2020 800 N/A

Where to learn more about advances in higher data rates and other optical networking technologies

For those interested in a career in optical networking, Optical Technology Training (OTT) offers a suite of highly regarded certified training courses in optical communications through licensees around the world. To learn more about OTT optical networking courses delivered by FiberGuide, the training schedules, venue and other pertinent details, visit our optical networking training website. Contact us to learn more about how we can bring the training to your location.  You can also visit the OTT training website for a complete suite of OTT training courses and more information about what OTT has to offer.

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