Connecting the World to the Future: Supporting the Explosive Growth in Data Traffic Generated Through Data Centres
By Rendong Xu, Shawn Xu, Wendy Wang, and Jerry Brown
November 27, 2020
Exactly 2 years ago Hengtong Marine published a short article  in SubTel Forum outlining some of the challenges and features required from a higher fibre count repeatered system cable. This paper follows up on the steps taken since that date following the design, qualification, transfer to production and manufacturing stages to the delivery of a 32 fibre count SDM cable system.
The International Energy Agency (IEA), IEA 2020, Data Centre and Data Transmission Networks Tracking Report June 2020,  states “ Global internet traffic surged by almost 40% between February and mid-April 2020, driven by growth in video streaming, video conferencing, online gaming, and social networking. This growth comes on top of rising demand for digital services over the past decade: since 2010, the number of internet users worldwide has doubled while global internet traffic has grown 12-fold”.
The report also provides some astounding facts on data transmission, citing that most of the world’s Internet Protocol (IP) traffic goes through data centres …. and for every bit of data that travels the network from data centres to end users, another five bits of data are transmitted within and among data centres, This 5x magnification in data transmission puts more demands on the submarine optical cable networks connecting global data centres.
Furthermore on demand for data services, “Demand for data and digital services is expected to continue its exponential growth over the coming years, with global internet traffic expected to double by 2022 to 4.2 zettabytes per year (4.2 trillion gigabytes) … while the number of Internet of Things (IoT) connections is expected to double from 12 billion to 25 billion. These trends are driving exponential growth in demand for data centre and network services.
The report concludes “Demand for data centre services will continue to grow strongly, driven by media streaming and emerging technologies such as AI, virtual reality, 5G and blockchain…… in upcoming years, new, more efficient technologies will be needed to keep pace with growing data demand.”
This exponential growth in demand for network services linking data centers is fueling the increased transmission requirements of submarine optical cable systems.