Never a dull moment


Service providers are finding that building and operating a profitable optical network is much more difficult than anticipated. With their revenues failing to keep pace with expenses, they push for components makers to develop innovative products that reduce costs and enable value-added services such as wavelength-on-demand. This situation explains the current intense pressure for better integration, flexibility, and manufacturing.

As Jocelyn Lauzon and his colleagues at INO (Ste-Foy, Québec, Canada) point out, wavelength-selective switches will go a long way toward providing flexibility in service provisioning. Jeff Hecht's article on modulators and switches seconds the point.

The importance of integration in component design is demonstrated in articles by Kevin Affolter of Agility Communications (Santa Barbara, CA) and Nigel Cockroft of Gemfire (Palo Alto, CA). Affolter discusses the integration of lasers with amplifiers and modulators in a planar waveguide structure, while Cockroft takes a similar tack on integrating variable optical attenuators with multiplexers.

Manufacturing looms large as a means of reducing cost and improving efficiency, writes Moez Adatia of iPhotonics (Glen Burnie, MD). He notes that, as in the electronics industry, many component companies are outsourcing their manufacturing so they can concentrate on core strengths in product design and development. This trend includes not only basic manufacturing services but optical integration and testing.

The innovations needed to continue the success of optical networking often come from the research labs in universities and component companies. This relationship was evident during the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), held in Baltimore, Maryland, May 6-11. While no longer the largest show in the optics-related world, it's worth remembering that many key technical developments are first discussed at CLEO. The next waves of innovations continue to flourish, and can shine here without the hype and hustle of shows like the Optical Fiber Communications conference.

The next generation of optical networking technology is also taking a commercially viable form. To explore this development, WDM Solutions, along with KMI Corporation and our sister publications Lightwave, Laser Focus World, and Integrated Communications Design, is organizing The 40 Gbit/s Forum. SPIE—The International Society for Optical Engineering is co-sponsoring the event.

You'll find information about the conference in several ads in this magazine and on our website We're offering speakers from such companies as Corning, CyOptics, Global Crossing, JDS Uniphase, Nortel Networks, and Phaethon Communications. They will help us provide a thorough examination of the prospects for 40 Gbit/s technology from the perspectives of component manufacturers, system integrators, and end users.

Innovations in such products and technology have brought us to this point in optical networking. I can only believe they will continue to fuel success.

W. Conard Holton
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief

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