October - Lightwave


The Lightwave editorial staff uses The Lightwave Blog to share their thoughts on optical communications and whatever else might be the current topic of conversation from cubicle to cubicle. Feel free to add your own opinions. If you'd like to become a guest blogger, contact Editorial Director Stephen Hardy at stephenh@pennwell.com

Archive for 'October 2008'

    The scoop on Gudmundson

    October 31, 2008 4:54 PM by Stephen Hardy
    Posted by Stephen Hardy

    Here is JDSU's official take on Gudmundson's move:

    The JDSU Optical Communications and Lasers segments are being combined into one segment called Communications and Commercial Optical Products (CCOP). This combination will enable JDSU to leverage its technology, its manufacturing model and its people to continue to improve profitability. Alan Lowe will assume the role of President of the Communications and Commercial Optical Products segment. David Gudmundson, who has driven the strategy and positive change for Optical Communications, will serve in an advisory role.

    Lowe previously headed up the Commercial Lasers business.

    More changes at JDSU

    October 31, 2008 2:54 PM by Stephen Hardy
    Posted by Stephen Hardy

    While attention has focused on President and CEO Kevin Kennedy's imminent departure from JDSU , he's not the only example of high-level personnel shuffling at the company.

    According to the same October 30 8K filing that details Kennedy's news, Executive Vice President and President, Optical Communications Products Group David Gudmundson stepped down from his position as head of the company's optical comms business to become vice president, senior advisor, optical technologies on October 28.

    I've got a query into JDSU to find out more.

    Wavelength debate makes RFoG standard unclear

    October 22, 2008 10:19 AM by Stephen Hardy
    Posted by Stephen Hardy

    As you'll see in an article that will appear in the November issue of Lightwave, the working group within SCTE that is shaping the RF over Glass (RFoG) standards has hit a stumbling block. The group has reached consensus on 1550 nm as the downstream wavelength. However, determining which upstream wavelengths to use has become an issue.

    The problem is that the working group, which contains several equipment vendors that also make PON systems, is attempting to construct the specifications in such a way that carriers can overlay a PON over the RFoG infrastructure. Given the wavelengths already in play for GPON and EPON, plus those expected to be used for the 10-Gbit/sec standards now under development within FSAN and the IEEE, there aren't a lot of attractive wavelengths left. And if you can't leverage the volumes that lasers tuned to the already popular wavelengths enjoy, how can you keep costs down?

    At the heart of the conundrum is the question of the role RFoG will play on the path toward all-optical MSO networks. One source for my article, whose company currently supplies RFoG-like equipment, asserts that the PON suppliers are pushing an agenda in which RFoG is merely an interim step toward PONs. The source disagrees with this philosophy; his feeling is that RFoG architectures will have a long life within MSO networks, and that the SCTE should therefore focus on what's the most cost-effective way to deploy them, PONs be damned.

    Despite this hiccough, consensus indicates that the SCTE working group will complete its task by the middle of next year. But it would appear that carriers could play a very useful role by communicating their viewpoints on the expected relationship (or lack of it) between RFoG and PONs.

    The 100G conundrum

    October 16, 2008 10:52 AM by Meghan Fuller Hanna
    Posted by Meghan Fuller Hanna

    This week, I've been trying to wrap the ol' cerebral cortex around dual-polarization quadrature phase-shift keying, or DP-QPSK to those of us in the know. (Since it took me most of the week just to memorize the acronym, I probably shouldn't count myself among that esteemed company.)

    At any rate, I started my research with the Optical Internetworking Forum , which recently announced that its 100G project would focus on DP-QPSK as the advanced modulation format for 100G long-haul transmission. When I asked Joe Berthold, former president of the OIF and one of the authors of the current 100G project, why the organization has decided to standardize on DP-QPSK, he was quick to note that this is not a standard, per se.

    Instead, the OIF's goal is to "create a critical mass of vendors in the market to buy technology components of a particular type so that we can create an ecosystem," he explained. "We are not looking at standardizing the be-all-and-end-all. We're looking at selecting a particular implementation that looks attractive enough that we think a lot of us are going to follow [it], and we think it makes a lot of sense for component companies to invest in the various piece-parts for it."

    In other words, the OIF is aiming to 1) mitigate the risk inherent in component R&D, and 2) drive down the cost of the resultant components by creating a critical mass of buyers.

    On the one hand, I applaud the OIF for trying to ease the financial burden on the component vendors by creating an ecosystem of buyers. In an article I wrote summarizing the mood at this year's OFC Conference, "No relief in sight for optical components sector," I noted that the component sector was still too fragmented, gross margins remained tight at 20% to 30%, and no one seemed to know which part of the telecom food chain should bear the brunt of the R&D burden going forward. In that environment, what impetus does a component vendor have to develop the high-speed electronics and integrated photonic components that DP-QPSK will require? These companies poured hundreds of millions of R&D dollars into 40G, and . . . well, we all know what happened there.

    But here's the other side of this particular conundrum: While Berthold says the OIF was perfectly willing to "back another horse" should someone come up with a viable alternative to DP-QPSK, some wonder whether it's simply too early for the OIF to be backing any horse in this particular race.

    DP-QPSK still presents formidable challenges. For real 100G transmission, digital signal processing should be at least two times faster than for 40G, and the industry just isn't there yet. And it will take far more photonic integration than is currently available. You can build a system out of discrete components, but it's cost-prohibitive. Speaking of which, several people have told me that it's still at least--AT LEAST--six times more expensive than currently available 40G options, which, frankly, isn't going to fly with any of the carriers I know.

    To be fair, no one I interviewed for my story disputed the fact that DP-QPSK holds a lot of promise, but some wonder whether we can conclusively say it holds the most promise at this point.

    Because here's another interesting thing about DP-QPSK: it's relatively immature. As one industry insider told me, there is usually a three- to five-year lag before research concepts are commercialized, but "this is like lab-to-the-field almost immediately." There are still a lot of folks in research labs and university settings working on variations of APSK (amplitude and phase shift keying), for example, and there seems to be a recent groundswell of interest in OFDM (optical frequency domain multiplexing).

    So what do you think? Is now the right time for the industry to rally around DP-QPSK, or has the OIF jumped the gun?

    (FYI: My article--tentatively titled "Is DP-QPSK the end-game for 100 Gbits/sec?"-- is slated to appear in Lightwave 's November issue.)

    Where FTTH falls short

    October 6, 2008 3:48 PM by Stephen Hardy
    Posted by Tim Pritchard, publisher, Lightwave

    Editor's Note: Our boss, Tim Pritchard, asked for "equal access" to the blog to get something off his chest that's been bugging him about his current FTTH experience.

    When I first thought of entering the world of blogging, I was getting myself psyched up for yanking on my pant belt to let loose a good, "Why you, I, or somebody oughtta…!!!" But cooler headwinds prevailed.

    As both Group Publisher of LIGHTWAVE and an FTTH customer, my take on fiber service is different than an average customer. I see everything through the lens of our industry's work. Are we getting the promise of fiber out of our fiber-optic works? So far I say no.

    At the heart of what it seems to me to be a missed opportunity that lies between what is happening in the fiber roll out to the home and what could happen is the fact that wireline service providers focus on getting fiber service to the NCU -- and then stop there.

    If the wireline side of telecom looked at customers the way their wireless counterparts do -- then they would forever have their eyes on the device and the end user, not just the backbone.

    I have FTTH. At my NCU the Cat5 runs to a router that has an Ethernet attachment for my desktop computer and a wireless interface for the laptops in my home. Also out of my NCU, my telecom provider repurposed the previous MSO's coax between the NCU and my set top boxes that serve the televisions in my home.

    Consider the opportunity missed. Verizon, Cingular/ATT, and other wireless providers partner with Motorola, Nokia, and other handheld device makers and in doing so not only continually drive next-generation cell phone activity -- always coming out with and promoting next-generation devices which in turn drive more applications and revenue for the wireless phone companies -- but also drive brand as the carriers' brand footprint is all over the applications (see Verizon VCast as an example).

    What if Verizon and other wireline carriers were to partner with Sony, Sanyo, RCA, Dell, Gateway, and other wired device makers in the same way their wireless counterparts partner with consumer wireless device makers?

    Imagine now an FTTH customer experience that brings fiber all the way to the device. Instead of supporting 56-kbit/sec service on my laptops and scrambled, latency-affected viewing on my TV, I would get something completely out of the ordinary. Awesome HDTV and lightning fast Internet connectivity coupled with interfaces and applications that the bright engineers at the consumer device makers can and would dream up.

    I think that for the full reality of the fiber to the home dream -- of what we in this industry know we can build -- to come true, smart carriers need to find consumer device makers with which to partner. Customers like me would gladly add $20 to our monthly bill for a device (or devices) integrated into our packages that would work with extraordinary efficiency and a full menu of otherwise unattainable applications.

    Hey, the phone companies may even get back to a model where they simply lease the devices (like the 1980's AT&T phone models) -- only this go around they would offer regular upgrades for everyone's benefit.

    I am one FTTH customer that would sign onto that type of integrated service with a leased device model. How about you?

    WDM-PON: Is it better suited to the European marketplace?

    October 1, 2008 11:19 AM by Meghan Fuller Hanna
    Posted by Meghan Fuller Hanna

    At ECOC last week, France Telecom spoke publicly about its participation in the EU's SARDANA research initiative and the cost savings it hopes to achieve with the resultant technology. The carrier plans to evaluate SARDANA's WDM-PON during a trial in the town of Lannion, France in 2010.

    The EU has also funded a WDM-PON initiative known as GigaWaM, championed by the likes of Ignis Photonyx (See "EU to fund Ignis-led WDM-PON project .")

    And I couldn't help but notice that the first publicly announced customer for LG-Nortel's WDM-PON-based Ethernet Access system is a Dutch broadband service provider (See "UNET deploys Nortel's WDM-PON based system .")

    All of which makes me wonder: Is WDM-PON better suited to the European marketplace? Or are the Europeans simply going to be the early adopters of the technology, much like Japan led the way with its early deployments of PON technology?

    I recently interviewed Giovanni Manto, leader of Nortel's Ethernet Fiber Access Solutions Division, on the subject of WDM-PON. He noted that in North America, Verizon has settled on GPON, and in Asia, NTT has standardized on GE-PON. But in Europe, there is no such "900-lb. gorilla," as he called them.

    "A lot of the EMEA customers we deal with historically are in two camps right now," Manto told me. "One is basically saying, 'We want to build point-to-point networks. We believe point-to-point networks are scalable networks, they are foundational, and we can change the personality of that particular fiber connection depending on what our customers want.' Some of them have actually stipulated publicly that GPON will never be deployed in their network because of all the encumbrances and issues that GPON brings to their network, specifically from an operations standpoint and from a scalability standpoint."

    "Then there are customers in Europe that are looking at GPON," he admitted, "but they are reevaluating their decisions based on the fact that now there’s another solution in town."

    While there is certainly a great deal of PON and active Ethernet already deployed in Europe, there isn't a clear-cut front-runner, and that makes me wonder if European operators will be more likely to consider WDM-PON versus some version of 10G PON going forward.

    What do you think? Feel free to respond to this post or drop me an email (meghanf@pennwell.com ) with your thoughts on the subject. I'm thinking about writing a follow-up article that tackles this very question.

    . . . . Speaking of tackling difficult questions, some of you have asked for my predictions now that baseball's post-season is upon us. Keeping in mind that I am a Red Sox fan and not selecting them would be sacrilegious no matter how formidable the opponent, I offer you the following picks for the Division Series:

    National League Division Series:
    Cubs over Dodgers in five games. As a Red Sox fan, this is a tough one. I mean, really tough. For obvious reasons, a Red Sox/Dodgers World Series would be compelling, thanks to the return of former Sox Manny-being-Manny, Nomah, and Derek Lowe. Plus, I'd love to see Terry Francona and Joe Torre managing head-to-head in the Fall Classic. That said, not rooting for the Cubs seems a little self-centered, what with the Red Sox winning two titles in the last four years and the Cubs in the midst of a hundred-year drought. So I have to go with the Cubs on this one. Besides, now we can safely see a Red Sox/Cubs World Series without worrying about the impending apocalypse.

    Phillies over Brewers in four games. CC Sabathia is no doubt going to register at least one W, but I still think the Phillies will take this series.

    American League Division Series:
    Tampa Bay Rays sweep Chicago. Let's face it: We can no longer question whether these Rays are for real, and I think they're going to mop the floor with the White Sox. (For the record, I think they would have mopped the floor with the Twins, too.)

    And, without further ado . . .

    Red Sox over the Angels in five games. Okay, so in my heart I know this will be a tough series. On paper, it looks like it could be the Angels' year, but here's the great thing about baseball: It's not played on paper. As Stephen reminded me this morning, all we have to do is take one of the two games in Anaheim, and then we're back at Fenway where this team simply plays great baseball. The bottom line: I ♥ Jon Lester, I think he's going to beat Lackey tonight, and I'd take my chances against anyone at the Fens.

    I'll check in with my Championship Series predictions next week.

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Stephen Hardy

Stephen Hardy has covered fiber optics for more than 15 years, and communications and technology for more than 30 years. He is responsible for establishing and executing Lightwave's editorial strategy across its digital magazine, website, newsletters, research and other information products. He has won multiple awards for his writing.

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Stephen Hardy

Stephen has covered fiber optics for more than a dozen years, and communications and technology for more than 25 years. He is responsible for establishing and executing Lightwave's editorial strategy across its digital magazine, website, newsletters, research and other information products. He has won multiple awards for his writing. 

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