Microsoft Buys Hollowcore Fiber Cable Maker Lumenisity

Microsoft announced on Friday that it has acquired Lumenisity, a maker of hollowcore fiber cable for global networking infrastructure.

The acquisition of Romsey, U.K.-based Lumenisity will be used by Microsoft to bolster its cloud services infrastructure. It'll help Microsoft's Cloud Platform and Services customers that have "strict latency and security requirements," such as "healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, retail and government."

Lumenisity was formed in 2017 as a spin-out company from research conducted at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. Its hollowcore fiber cable speeds up transmissions over conventional single-mode fiber, while also being compatible with it. The hollowcore fiber can be spliced in the field with single-mode fiber, Lumenisity claims.

The hollow-core Lumenisity CoreSmart product uses nested antiresonant nodeless fiber (NANF) technology to achieve performance improvements over single-mode fiber.

Signals travel through air, rather than glass, using NANF technology. Here how Lumenisity described that aspect, in its white paper:

The term 'NANF' describes the structure of noncontacting, nested glass capillary tubes that are fused to the inside circumference of an outer glass tube, which makes the fibre cladding. This structure forms a predominantly single mode waveguide. The light signals propagate through air along the central axis, with very little coupling loss over a broad range of operable wavelengths and an extremely high extinction of any higher order modes. Light travelling through air rather than glass provides several distinct advantages, such as: lower latency, higher power handling, and virtually no non-linear signal impairment, which is beneficial for high bit-rate, high capacity multichannel telecommunications applications.

Lumenisity claims its NANF hollowcore technology can help reduce latency between datacenters and has "the lowest attenuation of any hollowcore fiber."

Microsoft's announcement described Lumenisity's hollowcore fiber as providing light transmissions that are "47% faster than standard silica glass." Microsoft also claimed that Lumenisity's design affords "enhanced security and intrusion detection," plus "ultra-low signal loss" over long distances without having to use repeaters.

Acquisition terms weren't described, but Lumenisity's team will be joining Microsoft "to accelerate innovations in networking and infrastructure." For its part, Lumenisity indicated that it was "proud to be acquired by a company with a shared vision that will accelerate our progress in the hollowcore space," per a Lumenisity announcement.

Lumenisity also noted that the acquisition is happening just after it "completed the development of the world's first dedicated HCF manufacturing facility in Romsey, UK."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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