Q&A with Data Center POST’s Contributing Editor, Kathy Xu

Nigel Bayliff, CEO of Aqua Comms

Nigel Bayliff, CEO of Aqua Comms

Data Center POST recently spoke with Nigel Bayliff, CEO of Aqua Comms, the operator of Ireland’s first dedicated subsea fibre-optic network interconnecting New York, Dublin and London, about the future course of the company, the evolution of the submarine cable industry, and what it hopes to accomplish at ITW 2017, taking place 14-17 May in Chicago.

Data Center POST, Kathy Xu (DCP-KX) Question: Tell us how Aqua Comms has evolved in the past year.

Aqua Comms, Nigel Bayliff (AC-NB) Answer: Aqua Comms has evolved, and continues to evolve, tremendously since America-Europe Connect (AEConnect), our transatlantic subsea fibre-optic network, went live in January 2016. This was brought home when we received Capacity Media’s 2016 Global Carrier Award for ‘Best Subsea Innovation’ for AEConnect last November.

Over the past year, we’ve formed an innovative partnership with Megaport that will allow enterprise customers to access transatlantic capacity on AEConnect via Megaport’s global Software Defined Network, established new Points of Presence in key strategic access points including 1025Connect on Long Island, New York, and expanded our terrestrial network on euNetworks’ long haul fibre network, connecting to data centres in 13 major European metro markets. Aqua Comms also completed a co-investment agreement with the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.

Additionally, we also recently conducted a test on AEConnect that involved Facebook using Nokia Bell Labs’ new optical digital processing. Using probabilistic constellation shaping with 64-QAM, the remarkable result was an increase of almost 2.5 times the stated optical transmission capacity of the system. We also did a trial of Nokia’s Photonic Service Engine 2 that validated the successful transmission of 8-QAM wavelengths running at 200 Gb/s, and 16-QAM wavelengths running at 250 Gb/s. These were both first-ever, transatlantic transmission accomplishments, with the latter immediately commercially available and able to support reliable operation.

DCP-KX Q: How has the subsea fibre network industry evolved? What are the new industry challenges Aqua Comms is helping to solve?

AC-NB A: As companies rely more and more upon the cloud, it’s important to remember that the cloud resides beneath the world’s oceans. Meaning the globalisation of business and communications will rely more and more upon the existing and new undersea arteries of connectivity. The advent of coherent technology, software-defined networking, 8-QAM and eventually 16-QAM technology will all contribute to subsea cable systems’ ability to extend long-haul network capacity to meet the present and future needs of international web-scale customers.

As the aforementioned tests demonstrate, web-scale and content providers’ need for higher capacity, greater reach and more network flexibility perfectly aligns with the interests of Aqua Comms to push the boundaries of technology on our networks, extend existing systems and build new cable routes.

DCP-KX Q: What’s new on the horizon?

AC-NB A: Aqua Comms is building three new fibre-optic cable systems: CeltixConnect-2, North Wales Connect and North Sea Connect. These networks will provide uniquely diverse, high capacity routes to the UK and Europe.

DCP-KX Q: What do you hope to accomplish at ITW?

AC-NB A: As a venue to interconnect and network with other industry leaders, ITW is a dynamic platform for our organisation. NJFX, for example, is planning an event with Brazilian carriers with whom we’re eager to converse.

DCP-KX Q: What other industry events can we catch Aqua Comms at this year?

AC-NB A: The Aqua Comms team has a busy calendar that includes attendance and participation at Submarine Networks World, Capacity Europe, NANOG events and PTC’18. We believe it’s an important aspect of our mission to attend as many industry events as humanly possible to meet with our customers, partners, prospects and other key stakeholders in the communications community.

DCP-KX: Thank you for your time and best of luck at ITW! For more information about Aqua Comms, visit http://www.aquacomms.com.

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