Running the gauntlet

Fall, of course, is trade-show season in the communications industry. And this fall the harvest is ripe with events.

by Stephen Hardy

Fall, of course, is trade-show season in the communications industry. And this fall the harvest is ripe with events. Maybe overripe. In September and October alone, we have CIOE, ECOC, the North American FTTH Conference, the Broadband World Forum, TIA's The Future of the Network, the new U.S. version of Europe's WDM and Next Generation Optical Networking conference, SCTE Cable-Tec, Ethernet World (formerly Carrier Ethernet World Congress), an OIDA workshop on photonic integration, a seminar on silicon photonics at the Open Server Summit, and undoubtedly several more gatherings that I'll ignore so my fingers don't cramp typing this paragraph.

That's quite a gauntlet. Makes you wish that show organizers did more to sprinkle their top-notch optical-communication conferences throughout the year (like, say, in July 2014). But ours is not to reason why; ours is but to drag out our suitcases, polish up our passports, and hit as many of these events as possible. Here's what I expect will be on the agenda.

First, expect to hear a lot about small-form-factor transceivers for 100 Gbps, both for the line and client side. For the client side, you can expect discussion of CFP2, with some vendors openly outlining their roadmaps and perhaps even showing off some product. Based on our Summer at the Speed of Light: 100G interviews, CFP definitely has a life for coherent line side applications, with CFP2 to follow. I anticipate a lot of talk about pluggable coherent transceivers at multiple events.

Of course, you won't be able to get away from software-defined networking (SDN). But I'm guessing the hype that has surrounded silicon photonics will quiet down a bit until some of the startups show products and/or Intel or IBM announces deployable technology. That's coming – it's just a matter of when. Meanwhile, photonic integration of all stripes will be a point of emphasis at events in addition to OIDA's workshop.

At broadband-network events, fiber to the premises (FTTP) will battle VDSL2 vectoring along the lines we discussed in our last issue. Some (most likely in the FTTP camp) will position these technologies as either/or propositions. But you can expect vendors in particular to suggest that these two approaches should be viewed as complementary. Also, you'll hear a lot of discussion about gigabit broadband networks (which is one reason I wrote about this in the article, page 13). Today FTTP provides the only sure path to such data rates. However, the upcoming specifications offer an approach to similar speeds over copper – as presenters and exhibitors will undoubtedly point out (more loudly at the Broadband World Forum).

And at SCTE Cable-Tec, that copper will be coax and served via DOCSIS. I expect to get updates on DOCSIS 3.1 as well as progress on DOCSIS Provisioning of EPON and EPON over coax.

With so many shows in so little time, there will of course be things that come out of nowhere – or at least there had better be, given the number of name tags that will be sacrificed over the next two months just so exhibit halls and hotel ballrooms don't sit empty this fall. I just hope I survive to write about them.

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