KATHMANDU:  Worldlink is upgrading its present bandwidth capacity of 80Gbps to 200Gbps in  two channels by upgrading a 650-km-long intercity ring network stretching from Kathmandu to Birgunj and Bhairahawa and incorporating cities like Butwal, Lekhnath, Chitwan, Damauli, Marshyangdi and Hetauda.  The new network will transport 100Gbps over a single fibre strand by using Nokia’s 1830 PSS (Photonic Service Switch) and 44 DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) channels, with each channel capable of transporting up to 400Gbps, thus putting in place a robust and flexible optical network that can meet the demands of increasing online traffic and enable efficient 100G services.

Worldlink’s decision to use a single fibre strand instead of a double fibre core for the bi-directional conveyance of 100 gigabytes of data per second has resulted in a partnership with Nokia which has the technology to transmit and receive 100G connectivity over any distance with just one fibre core. Samit Jana, Chief Technical Officer at Worldlink said, “Worldlink is using a single fibre to build the backbone network for transmitting 100G. So, we have teamed up with Nokia to expand our bandwidth capacity. Nokia is well known for its excellent wavelength modulation formats to optimise fibre use and easily supports bandwidths of 100G to 500G.”

The increase in web traffic, rising subscription base and launch of IPTV has led Worldlink’s present network to the brink of bandwidth saturation. As a result the company has opted for a 100G network which will provide reliable high-speed data rates to consumers within the intercity ring network and also reduce the maintenance required to upgrade its bandwidth capacity. Jana said, “With the internal infrastructure update, the need to frequently upgrade the network capacity is minimised which makes our operation less expensive. We will be able to carry international bandwidth through the backbone network which will serve various cities within the ring network. At the subscribers’ end, Worldlink will provide more bandwidth and higher quality of uninterrupted IPTV, HD video, 4K video and other services.” With the instigation of the 100G network, Worldlink does not expect to need any further capacity reinforcement for another 12 to 18 months.

The ISP has currently leased Nepal Electricity Authority’s (NEA) resources for the required infrastructure. It is using NEA’s fibre for the transmission of 100G services. For site acquisition, it is using NEA substations leased for a period of five years to house the equipment required for the 100Gbps network; the equipment is more sensitive, consumes more power and rack space  and requires an extensive cooling mechanism. Worldlink is also building an amplification site in Kaligandaki to cover the distance between Lekhnath and Butwal and another one in Kawasuti to cover the distance between Butwal and Chitwan. The upgrade is expected to be completed in three months.

Currently Worldlink is fully dependent upon the use of FTTH (fibre-to-the-home) for providing internet services in urban areas. It also provides wireless internet service through the ISM band but it does not have any frequency license and is bound to operate within the free frequency range, resulting in less reliable internet. According to Jana, Worldlink willexpand its services to rural areas with dispersed settlements through wireless connectivity once the National Telecommunications Authority (NTA) provides licenses for wireless broadband connectivity and allocates separate frequencies for internet service providers.

Even though Nepali ISPs have been upgrading their network systems to provide better internet services to consumers, they rely heavily upon international bandwidth. Worldlink is no exception as it buys IP bandwidth from various international IP transit locations and depends upon global service providers like TATA, Airtel, Singtel and Cognet. Thus the cost of internet in Nepal can be reduced if local content is developed and popular websites are hosted in Nepal.

Jana said, “Purchasing international bandwidth accounts for almost 30 per cent of our total expenses. So the internet can be made less expensive if localised content is produced in large quantities within Nepal.”

–  By Saurav Bashyal for THT

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