Telecommunications carriers today seem transfixed by the market like deer caught in car headlights—frozen in time while contemplating the harsh glare of debt and uncertain demand—but companies that make products for this industry are showing new agility and innovation. These companies are willing the carriers forward with new thinking about how an optical network could work with the next generation of technologies. They seem intent on designing their way out of the current market collapse.
I think they are on to something because this is the year of the "design win¸" when few production–quantity orders are placed¸ but many lab and field trials are conducted. As a result of these trials¸ purchase decisions will be made in the coming months that will affect the industry for several years to come.
The importance of good design is illustrated in this issue by our focus on amplification. The traditional technologies for amplification now have become just one element in a dynamic and interrelated group of functions. By conceiving of the optical–link layer as a single subsystem¸ David Teed and his colleagues at BTI Photonics show that the integration of functions such as amplification¸ signal conditioning¸ and optical–channel monitoring can produce cost–effective and flexible performance. Likewise¸ Uri Levy and David Menashe of Lasercomm explain how dispersion management can be an integral design function in amplification schemes. And J.J. Pan and his colleagues at Lightwaves2020 simplify metro amplification by eliminating functions and components that may not be needed.
Innovative designs such as these in no way ensure success in the marketplace¸ but they will help position companies to leap forward when the road clears for growth in the telecommunications market.
W. Conard Holton
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief