OFC/NFOEC content extends beyond conference

By Stephen Hardy

You would think that the industry's premier technical conference would prove a sufficient inducement to attract attendees to this year's Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exhibition/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (OFC/NFOEC). Apparently, the organizers of the 2011 edition of the event–to be held in Los Angeles, CA, from March 6 through 10–either don't agree or believe that enough isn't really enough. The IEEE Communications Society, IEEE Photonics Society, and the Optical Society of America have packed the event (and particularly presentation space on the exhibition floor) with enough additional content to fulfill even the most inquisitive fiber-optic aficionado's requirements.

All of the now standard elements of OFC/NFOEC will remain in place. The technical sessions will provide the centerpiece of the event and will run Monday, March 7, through Thursday, March 10. The short courses and workshops that have been a staple of the event will precede the technical sessions on Sunday, March 6, and run through the morning of March 7.

Attendees will be able to window shop through the poster sessions March 8 through 10 for two hours each afternoon. And the post-deadline paper session, where speakers reveal some of the industry's most advanced and interesting work, will remain the last element of the event Thursday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.

But other sessions and seminars will compete with these many OFC/NFOEC staples for attendees' attention. Start with the plenary and awards session, scheduled for 8:00 to 11:00 AM on Tuesday, March 8. The plenary will feature a trio of speakers:

  • Olivier Baujard, chief technology officer, Deutsche Telekom, will present "Surfing the Wave of the Gigabit Society," in which he will describe his vision of a future data- and media-centric world, as well as the challenges such a world will present to network operators.
  • Alan Gara, IBM Fellow and Blue Gene chief architect at IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center, will discuss "Supercomputing's Symbiotic Relationship with Advanced Optics," describing how the world of supercomputers can serve as a breeding ground for advances and development in optical technologies, and how those technologies will reach the broader commercial market.
  • Kristin Rinne, senior vice president of architecture and planning at AT&T, will address how the growth of mobile data will affect optical networks, including cell-site backhaul. She will also discuss the evolution from HSPA to LTE next-generation wireless technologies. The title of Rinne's talk was not available as this issue went to press.

More good things will come in threes with a triple play of seminars. The Optical Society of America's Executive Forum will present its usual high-level analysis of the business climate for optical communications on Monday, March 7, from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Under the theme "Optical Technology–Transforming Business Models and Networks," the forum will feature keynote presentations from Basil Alwan, president, IP Division and head of portfolio strategy, Networks Group, at Alcatel-Lucent, and Simon Zelingher, vice president of global optical, IP, and data development at AT&T Labs. High-level speakers from Google, Juniper Networks, Verizon, and Comcast, as well as representatives from the components and subsystems niche, also will present their views.

The Service Provider Summit Wednesday, March 9, on the exhibit floor in Expo Theater I, will start with a keynote presentation at 8:30 AM. The speaker, Andrew Bach, senior vice president and global head of network services, NYSE Euronext, will discuss "The Financial Industry's Race to Zero Latency and Terabit Networking."

The summit will continue with a pair of panel discussions. The first, "Evolution to Higher Speed," will feature presentations from Dana Cooperson, vice president, network Infrastructure, Ovum; Hans-Martin Foisel, head of the Hybrid Technology Department, Deutsche Telekom, Fixed Mobile Engineering; and Glenn Wellbrock, director of optical transport network architecture and design, Verizon. David A. Brown, OIF Market Awareness and Education Committee co-chair and marketing director, Alcatel-Lucent, will moderate.

Michael Howard, principal analyst and co-founder, Infonetics Research, will chair the second panel, "What's Going on in Wireless?" Session panelists had not been announced by the time this issue went to press.

Meanwhile, the Market Watch panel session also will take place on the show floor in Expo Theater I during the three days of exhibits: Tuesday, March 8 through Thursday, March 10. Panels will include:

  • "State of the Optical Industry," Tuesday, March 8, moderated by Richard Habel, CEO, Habel Consulting, at 12:00 noon to 2:00 PM
  • "Implications of Converged Wireline Wireless for Network Evolution," Tuesday, March 8, moderated by Ovum Vice President, Network Infrastructure Dana Cooperson from 3:00 to 5:00 PM
  • "100G Ecosystem: Enabling Technology and Economics," Wednesday, March 9, moderated by James Keszenheimer, business development manager, ViaSat-Cleveland, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 noon
  • "Data Center: Traffic and Technology Drivers," Thursday, March 10, moderated by LightCounting LLC Founder and CEO Vladimir Kozlov from 10:00 AM to 12:00 noon
  • "What's Next for Optical Networking," Thursday, March 10, moderated by Andrew Schmitt, directing analyst, optical, Infonetics Research, from 1:00 to 3:00 PM.

More on the floor

While these three seminars have been part of the OFC/NFOEC curriculum for several years, the show organizers have recently added additional content on the exhibition floor to entice attendees to the area.

For example, the Optical Inter-networking Forum will offer two presentations in Expo Theater II. "400G vs. 1 Terabit: Market Needs and Technical Challenges" will be presented Tuesday, March 8, from 10:30 AM to 12 noon. The next day will see "Next Generation High-Speed Networks–an OIF Update" from 3:00 to 5:00 PM at the same location.

Not to be outdone, the Ethernet Alliance will set up shop in Expo Theater II on Wednesday, March 9, from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. The alliance will present a pair of panel discussions, "The Future of Higher Speed Ethernet" and "Converging on Ethernet–New Storage Technologies for Greater IT Efficiency and Flexibility."

Single-session presentations will include the Green Touch panel session on "When Will the Energy Crunch Hit Optical Networks" on Wednesday, March 9, from 10:30 AM to 12 noon and the Workshop on Optical Startups, "10 Years after the Bubble," from 11:00 AM to 12:00 noon on Thursday, March 10. Both of these sessions will take place in Expo Theater II, as well.

The most ambitious new offering, however, is the Optical Business Forum, which will occupy Expo Theater II from 1:00 to 5:00 PM on Tuesday, March 8. Under the theme "Meeting Today's Enterprise Needs," the forum will feature a keynote presentation from Rajiv Datta, CTO of optical communications services provider AboveNet, as well as three sessions:

  • "Who's Buying Optical Bandwidth Services?"
  • "The Economics & Business Case for Connecting Data Centers"
  • "Carrier Ethernet Exchanges"

Finally, attendees also can investigate a pair of offerings in Expo Theater III. The Fiber Optic Switch & Technology Center will be open Tuesday, March 8 and Wednesday, March 9. The Plastic Optical Fiber Trade Organization (POFTO) will assume control of Expo Theater III the next day, March 10, to open the Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) Market & Technology Opportunities Presentations and Applications Center.

In addition, a video theater will show a variety of educational films each day, including an interview with fiber pioneer Dr. Charles Kao. So the most difficult task for attendees probably won't be finding something of use; it will be determining which session or seminar to attend.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the show floor…

While you're running from, say, the Service Provider Summit to the Market Watch seminar, the show organizers would greatly appreciate it if you took a few moments to visit some of the exhibitors who are helping to foot the bill for all this wonderful content. Individual exhibitors (more than 500 are expected to populate the exhibit floor this year) were reluctant to share with Lightwave details of their new product introductions at press time. However, here are a few things to expect from the announcements and demonstrations.

More tunable XFPs: JDSU was first out of the gate with a device, and Oclaro followed suit at ECOC 2010. Opnext is hard at work on its own version–will it be ready by this March?

More on gridless ROADMs: Finisar and Oclaro each displayed (or at least discussed) gridless technology on the ECOC 2010 show floor. Not surprisingly, their technologies' capabilities differed–as did the viewpoints on what carriers will require. You can expect to see further debates, with perhaps a few more players involved, in Los Angeles.

100-Gigabit Ethernet module debates: Google has taken its complaints about 100GBase-LR4 to the next level by helping to establish a multi-source agreement (MSA) for a 10x10-Gbps module. Who besides Google wants such a device? And how many vendors are willing to pursue a market whose size is so uncertain?

No escape from 100-Gbps coherent: The full 100-Gbps coherent ecosystem should be on display (sometimes in back rooms) at OFC/NFOEC 2011. Expect to hear more from module vendors on their progress toward commercial offerings. Meanwhile, electronic and optical component manufacturers will tout new advances. We may also see some of the 100G startups come out from hiding. Meanwhile, 40G (both coherent and not) also will clamor for attention.

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