Microsoft acquires Lumenisity to bring hollow core fiber tech to Azure cloud
HCF cables slash latency while improving performance and securityBy Alfonso Maruccia
Why it matters: Hollow core fibers (HCF) are not a new solution per se, but the innovative design conceived by UK-based startup Lumenisity brings this '90s tech to the next level. Microsoft will now get the most out of it, optimizing its cloud platform for professional and government customers alike.
Lumenisity, a company founded around new-generation hollow core fiber (HCF) networking solutions, has been acquired by Microsoft for an undisclosed sum. According to Redmond's official announcement, HCF fibers will be used to expand the company's ability to optimize its global cloud infrastructure for customers in need of stricter latency and security requirements.
HCF cables are a combination of optical fibers and coaxial cables. Lumenisity's proprietary design improves on the base technology with a hollow, air-filled core surrounded by a ring of glass tubes. Light can travel faster through air than glass, and a recent trial by Comcast showed how a single strand of Lumenisity's HCF could deliver data rates ranging from 10 Gbps up to 400 Gbps.
BT Group - formerly known as British Telecom - tested Lumenisity technology as well, finding a potential slash in latency up to 50% compared to traditional fiber. Furthermore, euNetworks Fiber UK is currently testing HCF cables to serve London Stock Exchange networking needs.
According to Microsoft, HCF solutions could indeed bring significant benefits for a range of industries including healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, retail and government. Lumenisity's HCF cables can serve high-speed transactions, with increased bandwidth and high-capacity communications.
The cables' proprietary design also provides enhanced security and intrusion detection "for federal and local government across the globe," Microsoft said. For healthcare applications, Redmond stated, HCF cables can accommodate larger volumes of data sets, thus accelerating medical image retrieval, sharing and storing in the cloud.
Lumenisity cables offer significant advantages over traditional optical fiber cables built with a solid core of glass, including: increased overall speed and lower latency as light travels 47% faster than in standard silica glass; enhanced security and intrusion detection due to Lumenisity's innovative inner structure; lower costs and enhanced network quality due to elimination of fiber nonlinearities and broader spectrum; potential for ultra-low signal loss enabling deployment over longer distances without repeaters.
Lumenisity was founded in 2017 as a spin off from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton to commercialize breakthroughs in the development of hollow core optical fiber. The company won the Best Fibre Component Product in the European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC) Exhibition Industry Awards, and has just completed the construction of a 40,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Romsey, UK.