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The Journey to 800G and Beyond


by Aaron Werley, Vice President, Technology Zayo

A historic first: Zayo’s first production interstate 800G – the highest-capacity lineside wavelength possible with today’s technology

The road to innovation begins with a map. Sometimes it’s figurative — a roadmap or a plan for how to solve an issue at hand. In some cases (and this is true for Zayo), it’s a physical map that literally shows where network infrastructure will be placed so innovation can take place.

For network planning purposes, Zayo’s map of 126,000 miles of fiber network routes across North America and Europe is carefully plotted to provide critical connections to thousands of data centers, cloud providers, and commercial and entertainment centers in more than 400 markets.

With colorful fiber optic lines specifying different speeds and capability, the map looks similar to drawings of highway systems or flight routes crisscrossing the world. These images often come to mind when I look at our network plan and the expertly crafted long-haul network routes that, like an interstate highway or flight route, are moving people and businesses forward in tangible ways, and are impossible to imagine life today without.

Upgrading Our Network

Earlier this month, the Zayo route map received a significant upgrade with the addition of 31 high-capacity, 400G-enabled long haul fiber routes across North America and Western Europe. The network updates, expected through Q1 of 2022, significantly increase Zayo’s bandwidth and exceed current network speed standards. The goal is to enable digital transformation technologies like 5G, video streaming, cloud-enabled services, and more.

You can read more about the impact of 400G wavelength capabilities, including how it supports technological innovations like edge computing, machine learning, and IoT devices, in this blog post by Brian Lillie, our Chief Product and Technology Officer.

Breaking New Ground With 800G Waves

In addition to the 400G-enabled routes, which are notable themselves, one particular route marks a historic first for Zayo: the company’s first production interstate 800G wave in the United States. That’s the highest-capacity lineside wavelength possible with current technology. This new wave far exceeds the current standard of 100G in anticipation of the unceasing increase in connected devices and demand for low-latency, high-bandwidth networks.

Speeds aside, this 800G system has much in common with our 400G network rollout. This optimized wavelength network is also designed to provide high-capacity, competitively-priced connectivity on targeted routes for multi-cloud and multi-market connectivity. This makes it ideal for content providers, hyperscalers, carriers, and data centers.

Our first production system using 800G wavelengths features two 400G client slide connections per 800G wavelength. This system is between New York and New Jersey and planning is already underway for additional routes.

Partnering With Ciena To Make It Happen

To make these speeds possible, Zayo is leveraging market-leading coherent optical technology from Ciena, a networking systems, services, and software company, that previously partnered with Zayo to enable multi-terabit capacity across our Pan-European network.

“By enabling 800G with Ciena’s Reconfigurable Line System (RLS) and Waveserver 5, Zayo is designing a powerful adaptive network to support increased traffic, expanded connectivity and latency-sensitive services essential to our digital economy. Ciena’s coherent optical technology is a key piece of Zayo’s commitment to create infrastructure that enables the ongoing digital transformation of our society. We’re excited to partner with Zayo as they roll out their 800G wave routes,” said Steve Alexander, Chief Technology Officer, Ciena.

Planning For The Future

At Zayo, we plan our network evolution around our customers’ needs. The deployment of this 800G system is driven by customers’ demand for increased bandwidth and higher line-rate connections, all with the benefit of cost savings due to reduced space and power footprint requirements in data centers. This, in turn, allows Zayo to continue providing a high-performing, low-cost-per-bit service to our customers.

Though this is just the beginning for Zayo’s 800G enablement, this infrastructure has major implications for what’s to come for our networks and is setting a new standard of speeds that will one day be the norm.

Our purpose at Zayo is to connect what’s next, which means anticipating incoming technological developments as companies push towards new levels in their digital transformation.

Just as we look back today at the speeds once thought impossible, there will come a time when even 800G seems like an outdated standard. When that time comes, we can only imagine how much fuller our map will be with networks routes that showcase the next generation of technology and innovation.

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