FOX-C program aims to develop flexible optical network technology

Lightwave Staff

An international consortium that includes France Telecom Orange, optical technology vendors, and universities will attempt to develop flexible optical add/drop multiplexers and optical crossconnects as part of the FOX-C program. The three-year effort is being funded by the European Union as part of its FP7 program.

Carriers require more flexible fiber-optic networks to respond to rapidly changing user demands and increasing bandwidth growth. New optical switch technology will be necessary to not only rapidly switch wavelengths, but both the superchannels expected to be necessary for data rates beyond 100 Gbps as well as the subcarriers within these superchannels. In particular, an additional grooming level will be required in the optical domain to increase switching granularity.

The FOX-C (for “flexible optical cross-connect) effort will have two goals:

  1. design, develop, and evaluate a functional system prototype of flexible add/drop multiplexers (FOADMs) and flexible optical cross-connects (FOXCs) with switching granularity at the optical subcarrier level
  2. identify the right transport schemes to support such switching granularity and evaluate the overall optical network approach in terms of cost and energy consumption.

The consortia members will target the ability to groom, switch, and transport 10-Gbps subcarriers within high-capacity superchannels. This will require work at three transmission levels: the subcarriers, their superchannel, and groups of superchannels combined in a spectrally efficient way to create fiber capacities in the multi-terabit per second range.

The proposed flexible switching node architecture will be based on a dual-stage pass-through and select scheme. This approach will combine a coarse switching stage with spectrally adaptive characteristics, and a fine resolution switching stage able to drop and add individual lower-rate tributaries. The fine resolution stage will require novel approaches in terms of filtering elements with ultra-fine resolution as well as processing and signal regenerative subsystems, the consortium members say.

The cost and power efficiencies of the proposed approach also will be evaluated. Final system testing and demonstration of the FOX-C developments will be performed at Orange Labs in Lannion, France.

In addition to France Telecom-Orange, other FOX-C participants include Finisar (which has already developed a flexible-grid wavelength-selective switch, called FlexGrid), W-Onesys, Optronics, Athens Information Technology centre, ETH Zurich, Aston University, Hebrew University, Tyndall National Institute, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

“The need to provide ever higher capacity for our customers, while making our long-haul optical networks more flexible to save capex and opex, is essential for the business of Orange,” stated Alain Maloberti, vice-president of Orange Labs Network at France Telecom-Orange. “Our participation in the ICT-FP7-call8 FOX-C project will drive our innovation in this important area, while providing France Telecom-Orange with more experience in 400G/1T transport and more skills in flexible optical networking at ultra-high data rates, making our domestic and international networks future-proof, energy-efficient and cost effective.”

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