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Hot Topics at OFCNFOEC 12 Include Coherent, IP-Optical, Ng PON, Faster Speeds

By C. David Chaffee, Founder and CEO, Chaffee Fiber Optics

OFCNFOEC provides an abundance of information that can take weeks to fully process once the attendee finally gets home. Topics that those coming to the show this year tell us they are focused on include coherent optics, the maturation of IP+optical networking, next generation passive optical networking, data centers, and faster transmission speeds.

“As the industry marches toward a 3rd generation of 100G coherent devices, we are seeing a broader market adoption due to improved performance, price and density,” says Bill Gartner, Cisco’s Vice President/General Manager of the Converged Optical & Routing Business Unit.

Another interesting trend in optical to be addressed at OFCNFOEC 12 is the maturation of IP+Optical networks, continued Gartner.  “As ROADM solutions evolve with technologies such as colorless, omni-directional, and contentionless add-drop and as we see FlexSpectrum capability on the near horizon, that really has a positive effect on the usability of IP+Optical network solutions.  When the ROADM layer was more rigid it was difficult to prove in a simple router integration without extra optical equipment.  We still needed TDM technologies such as SONET/SDH/OTN to provide the any-to-any transport switching without over-provisioning the optical network.  Control plane advances are also important to the manageability of IP+Optical.  These are some of the optical technologies that are evolving to enable IP+Optical convergence and these optical technologies are more important than ever to Cisco!”

Rick Dodd, Senior Vice President for Marketing at Ciena, and whose company is a coherent optical pioneer, said coherent developments will continue to resonate at OFCNFOEC 12. “Of particular interest to me will be the depth of discussion that occurs around 400G/1T, but also coherent’s contribution beyond spectral efficiency,” said Dodd. “Last year we talked about operational simplification and new architectures made possible by coherent optics and I think the evolution of this discussion will be key.”

Dodd said he also is looking forward to sessions on how smarter networks are being made possible by software and programmable hardware. “For sure cloud computing will be referenced by numerous attendees as a driver of smarter networks and the need to allocate network resources on demand, “ he noted. “But smarts should also come up in the context of making both services and operations better.”

A key topic on the operations side will also be the use of software in global networks, according to Dodd. “There’s been quite a bit of subsea activity recently and tying those subsea networks into terrestrial networks so that they behave as a single seamless entity is of big interest to larger network operators; control plane software in particular is key to making this happen,” he added.

“For telecom applications, the transition to 100 Gbps coherent transmission has just started,” said Kotura Vice President of Marketing Arlon Martin. “I would expect to see more tunable lasers in XFP and SFP+ packages and, smaller, more manufacturable DP QPSK transmitters and receivers.”

Another hot topic is spatial multiplexing using multi-core fiber, according to Martin. “This new technology could enable denser components, larger optical pipes and faster supercomputers, routers and switches,” he added.

“OFC is very well respected for technical sessions and exhibits that showcase the latest components, sub-assemblies and related test equipment required for next generation technologies,” said Larry Johnson, Founder and Director of The Light Brigade.

“As data rates increase, expect more QPSK and forward error correction implementation demonstrated and applied,” said Johnson.  “Speed is definitely a hot topic and speed directly affects dispersion and latency issues from the user perspective. Reliability using optical switching technologies including ROADMs will be another hot topic.”

Both Johnson and Reg Wilcox, Vice President of Optical Network Marketing and Product Management for Huawei, anticipate 400 G will be an exciting topic in the technical sessions.  There also is a lot excitement at the optical components level, said Wilcox, who observed that is where a lot of the innovation in optical networking comes from. “One challenge for the optical components maker is how to continue coming up with the optical innovations necessary while still operating at only low margins,” Wilcox observed.

Bernhard Deutsch,  VP, Program Management at Corning Cable Systems, a longtime OFC attendee, said many in industry will be studying the advantages of the various next gen FTTH solutions at the show. “There is going to have to be an industry choice between 10 GPON, WDM-PON or something else to move forward,” he noted. Deutsch also observed that fiber in the home also is potentially becoming more important, noting that copper HDMI and USB today only seem able to carry signals beyond 10 Gbps several meters. Souped up HDTVs now under development known as 4k (for four times 1080p) HDTV and 8k (for eight times 1080p) HDTV potentially require 25 Gbps connection speeds.

OFCNFOEC 12 offers the opportunity to find out a lot of information on a “hot topic” in a very short period of time. John Jay, who manages Worldwide Applications Engineering for Corning Optical Fiber and who has been attending the show for a decade, says he can attend a technical session and “become immersed” in knowledge in an area that he normally does not have time to address.

Such is but one of the benefits of OFCNFOEC, which offers a rainbow of hot topic colors.

Posted: 20 January 2012 by C. David Chaffee, Founder and CEO, Chaffee Fiber Optics | with 0 comments

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC)  or its sponsors.

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