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Equinix data centres to introduce space laser connectivity

Wed 12 Oct 2016

Free space optics

Equinix is to house a new laser network system within its global data centre facilities in partnership with space optics firm Laser Light, to beam IP bandwidth via satellites tens of thousands of miles above the Earth’s surface.

According to a press release, the first Point of Presence (PoP) will be introduced at the Equinix DC11 International Business Exchange data centre in the Washington, D.C. area, before rolling out to facilities in the UK, Japan, Brazil, Australia, the Middle East and Europe.

The All Optical Hybrid Global Network (HALO), a constellation of between eight and 12 Medium Earth Orbit satellites, will use laser technology to transmit data between each satellite via 200Gbps optical crosslinks and to ground sites through 100Gbps links.

The partnership will enable Laser Light to sell its Optical Satellite as a Service (OSaaS) or ‘SpaceCable’ services to current Equinix customers, including carriers, businesses and government agencies.

Equinix owns over 145 data centres in 40 markets worldwide. The deal will therefore allow Laser Light to access and distribute through one of the world’s largest data centre networks, and to expand into local terrestrial fibre infrastructure – a critical step for reducing the effects of atmospheric interference, such as clouds and optical turbulence, in delivering its SpaceCable solutions.

Space-based laser communication technology, also known as free space optics, has been developed over a period of more than 20 years and is sponsored by government funding from the U.S., Europe and Japan. The space-based networks aim to provide increased bandwidth reliability, particularly in cases of terrestrial or submarine network failures. The emerging technology could also be useful in areas currently isolated from undersea and terrestrial fibres – a challenge also being tackled by the likes of Google’s Project Loon and Facebook’s Aquila drones.

‘By adding ‘SpaceCable’ as an equivalent offering together with terrestrial and submarine cables, Equinix customers looking for low latency solutions to reach new or emerging markets will have access to a full suite of data transport options,’ commented Ihab Tarazi, chief technology officer at Equinix.

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