May 21, 2004 Munich/Berlin -- While 40-Gbit/sec transmission may appear a relic of turn-of-the-century marketing hype, several companies have continued to work on the technology. This is particularly true in Germany, where field trials of 40G equipment are ongoing and where systems vendor Siemens expects to deploy systems carrying revenue-generating traffic next year.
In a discussion at one of the company's facilities in Munich last week, Dr. Stephan Neidlinger, vice president, solutions management, Optical Networks DTAG for Siemens ICN, said his company is working with Deutsche Telekom (DT) on a 40G field trial. He expects that carriers such as DT will begin to require 40G systems as they install the next generation of IP switches from the likes of Cisco -- and that this should happen as early as next year.
According to Dr. Neidlinger and Patrick Leisching, vice president, WDM systems MTS 2.x at Siemens, the company is working with StrataLight Communications of the U.S. to develop a blade that could be installed in Siemens' SURPASS hiT 7500. The device would use duo-binary modulation to support links of 500 km and as many as 80 wavelengths.
Meanwhile, in Berlin, 40G photodetector maker u2t Photonics also is seeing interest from system vendors, which leads Andreas Umbach, founder and CEO, and Michael Kneier, vice president of sales and marketing, to believe 2005 may be the year for commercial deployments as well. According to Kneier, the communications market for 40G began showing signs of life late last year. Kneier agrees with the Siemens sources that new IP routers will drive the 40G requirement, with DT and MCI leading the way. Kneier and Umbach say that a variety of modulation formats, including duo-binary and DPSK, are being tried by the customers, with the former popular with companies looking to get systems into the market quickly.
Kneier says that his company, which supplies photodetectors to both systems and test equipment houses, believes the 40G communications market will recover more quickly than test equipment. This is because the system vendors can ride the test equipment they bought during the bubble for the time being.
This would not be good news for SHF Communications, which makes components and subsystems for the test and measurement market, as well as bit-error-rate test sets that handle 44 Gbits/sec. Bernhard Schweiger, international marketing and sales manager for SHF, says he expects sales to remain essentially flat this year, and that test equipment sales will lag 40G systems deployment by about six months. That said, he reports more "discussion" of 40G among his customers this year than last year. He too says that system houses have not reached a consensus about what modulation formats represent the best path for efficient 40G transmission.
-- S. Hardy