7 March 2012 10:04:31 AM
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The 2012 OFCNFOEC plenary session this morning was highlighted by a vision into the future of cable TV and a very moving talk by Isao Sugino of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on the impact on telecommunications infrastructure of the 2011 tsunami, which he considers the worst natural disaster in Japanese history.
Google’s Milo Medin suggested that existing copper networking is rapidly becoming obsolete. “We are not seeing the obsolescence of wireline plant,” he said. “We are seeing the obsolescence of an entire network,” he added.
“The economics are such that no one is going to build a new HFC network,” said Medin. “The economics of FTTH are too compelling.”
Such a comment suggests that the hundreds of millions of dollars put into DOCSIS 3.0 is essentially wasted money at least over time.
Medin’s Google is competing with Time Warner Cable in the Kansas City area. Time Warner Cable has an HFC network in that area.
“Google is very focused on optical transport, delivering a gigabit today is now quite viable,” said Medin. “But 1 gig should not be considered the end point.”
“The future ability of wireless depends on deeper and deeper fiber,” said Medin. “A gigabit going all the way to the home is only a matter of time.”
The session was moved by Sugino’s fact-laced presentation on the impact of the Japan tsunami on the telecom infrastructure in Japan.
With the one year anniversary coming in five days, Sugino recounted an horrific event that led to 15,835 dead and 3,669 who continue missing. Some 903,000 residences were damaged. “In all, some 163 nations helped us,” he observed, “we are very grateful.”
The goal going forward, according to Sugino, is to build a more resilient fiber optics network. Almost 40 percent of those impacted by the storm were connected to an FTTH architecture. Both submarine and terrestrial fiber were impacted by the storm.
“Japan was prepared for the earthquake to some extent,” said Sugino. Yet how prepared can you fully be for the worst earthquake in your nation’s history which led to waves of up to 40 meters?
The day of the earthquake there was enormous mobile congestion with the impact felt as far away as Tokyo, according to Sugino. “Voice traffic was restricted by as much as 70 percent to 95 percent. Some 4,900 mobile base stations were damaged in the Tohoku area. Some 30,000 mobile base stations were damaged in total,” he added.
“There was extensive damage in the core network, the fixed line network, the mobile network, and the submarine network,” according to Sugino. “Stopgap optical fiber was used between network centers and bay stations.”
The damaged submarine networks required the addition of 500 kilometers of new optical fiber cable to restore.
Regarding his analysis of measures to deal with the disaster, Sugino observed that “some of the measures worked while others did not.” This led to the conclusion that Japan’s communications network must be more resilient going forward. Significant R&D is being focused in Japan on that problem.
“There is a need for the flexible reconfiguration of our communications networks,” said Sugino. “The survivability of the traditional ring-based network was not enough.”
Going forward, the nation is committed to developing the next generation fiber optic network. “We need larger network capacity, lower energy consumption, a more dynamic and flexible network,” said Sugino. Yet he also noted that targets must be achieved under using normal cost constraints.
“We want full utilization of optical technologies,” said Sugino. “We desire a flexible and resilient all optical network.”
At the beginning of the plenary session, fiber optics pioneer and innovator John Bowers was presented with the John Tyndall Award. Bowers was provided with the accolade for his research in hybrid silicon lasers and photonic integrated circuits. A professor at UC Santa Barbara, he has 52 patents to his credit.