The Optical Networking and Communication
Conference & Exhibition

Moscone Center,
San Francisco, California, USA

Pros and Cons of Low-Margin Optical Networks


Martin Birk, AT&T, USA
Yvan Pointurier, Huawei, France
Jane M. Simmons, Monarch Network Architects, USA
Sorin Tibuleac, ADVA Optical Networking AG, USA


Traditional optical networks are over-engineered due to conservative assumptions used in the planning process with regard to module characteristics, system performance, and network fiber infrastructure, and due to the requirement to sustain many years of error/failure-free operation with limited reconfigurations (if any). As a result, typical optical networks operate with high performance margins and underutilized capacity. However, modern optical networks with flexible ROADMs, highly-configurable transponders and (typically SDN-based) software control may have a shorter circuit lifetime than traditional fixed optical networks.

Furthermore, the ability to pull performance data on many parameters from ROADMs, transponders and amplifiers every second, or even faster, enables unprecedented visibility into the optical-layer behavior and enables novel analytic techniques including machine learning. As we approach the practical limits of spectral efficiency, one avenue to further increase capacity is to more accurately determine the actual performance of the optical network, how close it is from failing, and operate it at higher capacity with lower margin.

This panel will investigate the new trend for lower margin optical networks. We will start with network operator views and then have experts from industry and academia discuss their challenges and proposed solutions.

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