5th Gen Coherent Trials and Deployments

Last Updated September 2, 2020; Updated text in bold

Cignal AI continues to track announcements of 5th generation (800Gbps-capable, 90+ GBaud) optical trials and deployments.


This report tracks publicly announced, terrestrial trials and network wins by vendors of 5th generation coherent optics.

  • Only terrestrial wins are tracked, as submarine builds are atypical. See the last section for a plot of submarine trials and announcements for comparison.
  • Only publicly announced trials and customer wins are tracked. Each point on the graphs below can be traced to a press release or other public announcement.
  • Some trials are designed to demonstrate maximum performance of the optics while others are performed on real-world networks with sub-optimal characteristics (e.g. multiple ROADMs, older fiber, etc.). This tracker merely reports the data released, not the relative merits of each announcement.
  • 5th generation coherent optics is defined as optics operating at rates in excess of 90GBaud. 5th generation is not defined by the top speed or performance of the optics. 5th generation optical engines include the Infinera ICE6, Ciena WaveLogic 5s, Nokia PSE-Vs, and Huawei OptiXtreme 7.


The first graph demonstrates 5th generation performance by different vendors based on publicly available information, with the speed and distance for each announcement plotted on a log scale (blue triangles). 5th generation optics are capable of operating at many different speeds, typically ranging from 100Gbps to 800Gbps. Slower speeds can operate over longer distances while higher speeds are intended for shorter distance operations.

As a comparison, publicly announced 3rd generation (~60-70GBaud) trials and announcements are plotted as red squares. Note that the maximum speed for 3rd generation coherent optics is 400Gbps for the Ciena WaveLogic Ai and 600Gbps for Acacia Pico/AC1200 and Nokia PSE-3.

5th and 3rd Generation Coherent Announcements – Distance versus Speed

The second graph shows trials (blue) and commercial deployments (red) as vendors work with their customers to deploy 5th generation optics. The first 5th generation announcements were in January of this year. The COVID-19 shutdown inhibited the ability of vendors to complete trials with some customers, but the announcements started to pick back up in June. Dotted lines between points indicate a single trial or commercial announcement with multiple speeds reported.

5th Generation Coherent Announcements – Speed versus Time

Vendor Summary

  • Infinera focused on demonstrating the capabilities of the ICE6 over long distances at 800Gbps, with no other vendor showing distances in the 600-900km range at full speed. The cluster of Infinera points at 800Gbps in the first graph is a result of Infinera’s strategy of pushing the limits of coherent capabilities based on its belief that ICE6 has superior performance.
  • Ciena has focused on commercial deployments of WaveLogic 5e and is responsible for all the red points (commercial deployment announcements, not trials) in the second graph. Ciena claims that its performance rivals Infinera’s, but to date has not demonstrated comparable distances at 800Gbps.
    [Update 2 September] Ciena has taken the time to do an limits-pushing trial of Wavelogic 5e with TELUS and reported a 970km span, the longest 800Gbps span to date.
  • Huawei had a few trial OptiXtreme 7 announcements early at relatively short distances but has been quiet lately. Huawei may be having issues with development as access to 7nm fabrication has been cut off due to political pressure on TSMC.
    [Update 22 July] Huawei claims to have received sufficient inventory of OptiXtreme 7 chipsets prior to the access cutoff, that those chipsets have been used in trials with customers, and that those customer trials are not public. Cignal AI is attempting to independently verify those claims.
  • Nokia announced the PSE-V 5th generation coherent engine (see Nokia PSE-V Coherent Chipset) but hasn’t made any trial or deployment announcements.
    [Update 22 July] Nokia announced a trial with Orange of the PSE-V chipset. While this is not a trial of equipment, the performance and dates have been added to the charts for comparison. Note that the maximum speed of the PSE-V is 600Gbps by design.

Submarine Trials and Announcements

Submarine (SLTE) trials and announcements are not included in the graphs above. For comparison, the chart below plots 5th generation and 3rd generation speed and distance for SLTE trials and commercial announcements.

5th and 3rd Generation Coherent SLTE Announcements – Distance versus Speed

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  • September 2nd, 2020 – Added Ciena’s 970km 800Gbps trial and updated text in the Ciena section.
  • August 5th, 2020 – Added Methodology, 3rd generation coherent data points, SLTE Performance, additional 5th generation trials
  • July 25th – Added notes on Huawei and Nokia and added Nokia datapoints