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Dissecting a submarine network trial announcement
With network infrastructure as critical as submarine cables, we’re constantly seeing new cables being announced and new technological milestones being achieved – but what’s real? Learn the difference between a hero trial, real-world trial, and how you can read between the lines to help separate hype from reality.
By Brian Lavallée – 2019 has and will continue to be a very busy year in the submarine network industry, with several new cables announced, deployed, and already put into the Ready for Service (RFS) state. Why does the industry need so many new submarine cables? To maintain pace with our ever-growing affinity and utter addiction to Internet-based content, which continues to drive the 40% CAGR in intercontinental bandwidth demand, according to industry analysts at TeleGeography, along the submerged information superhighways that interconnect continental landmasses.

As submarine networks are rightfully considered critical infrastructure, deploying new and modern cables will improve the overall reliability of the global network that erases distance and borders to close the digital divide.

When new submarine cable performance milestones are achieved in trials, they’re actively promoted through blogs, press releases, tweets, and webinars to celebrate, and why not? These new submerged wet plant and modem technology advancements are truly astonishing and deserve this fanfare – but the context of these achievements must be fully understood to determine what’s actually deployable for live customer traffic in the real-world.

A “hero field trial” typically uses best-case conditions that are not applicable in the real-world for production traffic, such as using Start-of-Life (SOL) performance margins and not End-of-Life (EOL) performance margins. A “hero trial announcement” can be identified by terms like “evaluation board”, “experimental”, “forward-looking”, “proof of concept”, “demonstration”, “industry first”, and other similar rather vague terms.

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A hero trial focuses on demonstrating new capabilities of a technology and/or product albeit without consideration of commercial requirements or conditions. That said, it’s a critical step in the evolution of any new technology.

In contrast to a hero field trial, a “real-world field trial” focuses on demonstrating new capabilities of a technology and/or product albeit with consideration of commercial requirements and conditions. This means that the offering can reliably carry customer traffic and maintain the agreed to Service Level Agreements (SLA) in the long-term. more>

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