By Dr. Ioannis Tomkos
OFC/NFOEC is always about the “next generation” of technology, devices, components, systems and networks. It is a venue where major research breakthroughs are presented for the first time and where all new scientific and technology developments are discussed. The term “next-generation” used in the OFC/NFOEC community often indicates what is coming up in the arena of access networks with fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) architectures and the relevant service offerings. In this research area, there is a tendency to use the term “next generation (NG)” for every technology that comes after the currently deployed FTTH networks. As a result, over the past 6-7 years or so, we have talked about NG-1, NG-2 and even now we use the term NG-3 (!) to denote different generations of evolving technical solutions for wireline access networks. It’s unfortunate that none of these celebrated “NG” technologies/systems have been widely deployed so far (although NG-1 has been standardized and NG-2 has passed the first standardization phase), but it further fuels the discussion about what “next generation” really is and which approach will actually win the race and enjoy widespread adoption.
OFC/NFOEC has been covering the access networks area for quite some time with dedicated technical committees. This special attention was in response to the increasingly strong demand for modernising available applications to residential and business customers over the past decade. Conventional services like high-speed Internet access and Voice over IP (VoIP) are being complemented by a new breed of services that require dramatically higher bandwidth solutions offering support for media-rich applications such as high-definition television (HDTV), video-on-demand (VoD), as well as multimedia conferencing, multiplayer online gaming, online content generation and even consumer-oriented cloud-computing solutions. One of the invited talks this year, “Next Generation Applications and Services for Ultra-fast Broadband” by Glenn Ricart, US Ignite, will address this topic of emerging services/applications.
To serve these applications, future wireline access networks are faced with the challenge of transporting an increasing volume of QoS-sensitive data/video traffic all the way to the end-user. It is inevitable that in the access network domain over the next few years, optical fibers will move closer to the customers based on different next generation access architectures like Fiber to the Building (FTTB) and FTTH. FTTB/H optical access networks mainly use Point-to-Point (PtP) and Passive Optical Network (PON) technologies. Currently, commercially available PtP solutions are based on Ethernet technology, while PON solutions employ different implementations of time-division-multiple-access (TDMA) technologies, such as those based on the XGPON (i.e.NG-1), GPON and EPON standards. Research on “next-generation” optical access solutions is underway to support higher bit-rates and reduced latency to enable better QoS and new services, while also achieving extended reach and high fan-out/splitting ratios to enable reduction of the number of central offices serving a certain access area, thus reducing the deployment costs. In this framework, exploitation of novel technologies (such as WDMA, (O)FDMA, OCDMA, (U)DWDM, and hybrid solutions) for use in NGA networks is currently the focus of many research activities and projects worldwide. Some of these proposed solutions and the relevant technology challenges will be discussed at the OFC/NFOEC 2013 workshop entitled “Can Access Networks Afford to be Wavelength Agile?”, the tutorial on “NGPON2 Technology” by Hirotaka Nakamura, NTT, and also at several invited talks (e.g. “Cost and Performance Evaluation of WDM-based Access Networks” by Ralf Hülsermann, Deutsche Telekom; “Advantages of Coherent Detection in Reflective PONs” by Roberto Gaudino, Politecnico di Torino; “Elastic and Green Optical Access based upon Coherent Interleaved Frequency Division Multiple Access” by Ken-ichi Kitayama, Osaka University; “FSAN NG-PON2 Updates”, by Ronald Heron, Alcatel-Lucent; and “Low Complexity FDM/FDMA Approach for Future PON” by Benoit Charbonnier, France Telecom Orange Labs).
Although the escalating demand in bandwidth provision at close subscriber proximity could be widely met by wireline networking solutions, next generation access networks should also provide end-users with great mobility features that support the emerging 4G and 5G wireless network solutions. The future convergence of optical and mobile networks is likely to deliver all desired benefits of data-centric, high-quality mobile service offerings with improved performance compared to today’s approaches. This requirement for convergence imposes the fundamental challenge of how to design the future access/metro network where integration of wireless and optical networks will be achieved. Related research topics will be discussed at the OFC/NFOEC Special Symposium on “Convergence of Wireless and Optical Networking” and at the workshop entitled “Post NG-PON2: Is it More About Capacity or Something Else?”
Once the final program with the contributed presentations becomes available, I will highlight the most important developments in the field of “next-generation” access networks. I’m interested to hear from the readers of this blog-- what does the “next-generation” mean to you?
Dr. Ioannis Tomkos
(Long-time affiliated with OFC/NFOEC from various roles ranging from participant to speaker to workshop organizer to committee member, to subcommittee chair, etc.)
Ioannis Tomkos (B.Sc., M.Sc. Ph.D.), has been with AIT since September 2002 (serving as Professor, Research Group Head and Associate Dean). In the past he was Senior Scientist at Corning Inc., USA (1999 – 2002) and Research Fellow at University of Athens, Athens, Greece (1995 - 1999).
His fields of expertise are telecommunication systems, networks, photonics and FTTH, as well as techno-economic analysis and business planning of ICTs. On the relevant topics he acts as consultant for industry and government officials.
Dr. Tomkos has represented AIT as Principal Investigator in about 20 European Union and industry funded research projects (including 9 currently active projects) and has a consortium-wide initiator/leader role. Several of his projects deal with technology and techno-economic issues of broadband access and FTTx networks. Together with his colleagues and students he has authored about 450 peer-reviewed archival scientific articles, including over 120 journal/magazine/book publications and 330 conference/workshop proceedings papers.
Dr. Tomkos was elected in 2007 as Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Communications Society for the topic of optical networking. He has served as the Chair of the International Optical Networking Technical Committee of the IEEE Communications Society (2007 - 2008) and the Chairman of the IFIP working group on Photonic Networking (2008 - 2009). He is currently the Chairman of the OSA Technical Group on Optical Communications (2009 - 2012) and the Chairman of the IEEE Photonics Society Greek Chapter (2010 - 2012). He was also Chairman of the working group “Next Generation Networks” of the Digital Greece 2020 Forum.
He has also been General Chair, Technical Program Chair, Subcommittee Chair, Symposium Chair, or/and member of the steering/organizing committees for the major conferences in the area of telecommunications/networking (more than 100 conferences/workshops). In addition, he is/was a member of the Editorial Boards of the IEEE/OSA JOURNAL OF LIGHTWAVE TECHNOLOGY, the IEEE/OSA JOURNAL OF OPTICAL COMMUNICATIONS AND NETWORKING, the IET JOURNAL ON OPTOELECTRONICS, and the International Journal on Telecommunications Management.
Posted: 21 December 2012 by
Dr. Ioannis Tomkos
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