NFOEC pursues continuing education

Sept. 1, 2002


The National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (NFOEC) began as a technical training meeting for RBOC personnel in 1984 but has blossomed into a can't-miss event for many in the industry, even amid today's economic uncertainties. Early indicators look good for this year's event; organizers have seen a 40% increase in submitted papers and are anticipating somewhere between 420 and 440 exhibitors at the 18th annual NFOEC, to be held Sept. 15-19, at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas.

According to Rolf Frantz, director of NFOEC's technical program, this year's submitted papers seem to be following a trend that began several years ago. "There are more papers and more presentations on architectures and network operations, methodologies, and techniques," he reports. "There's a lot more stuff on how to design networks, how to operate networks, than there is on the physical elements, the components, which used to be the bread and butter for the conference maybe 10, 12 years ago."

Sunday sessions
Perhaps the biggest change this year is the inclusion of a paid, continuing education program, sponsored by the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Both half- and full-day courses are planned, though advanced registration is required. For more information, visit

Eight half-day sessions will run from 8 am to noon and noon to 4 pm on Sunday, Sept. 15. Topics include "Understanding Fiber-optic Components," "DWDM technology: How it works," "Optical amplifiers for future optical networks," and "Optical communications: Perspectives from industry and Wall Street." The full-day courses will be 8 am-4 pm Sunday and include the following:

  • Next-generation Internet protocols for optical-network environments.
  • Review of critical DWDM component and system issues.
  • Understanding lasers, fiber optics, and photonic components.
  • Nonlinear optics for fiber-optic communications.

"We are doing what we can to make Sunday a good start day for people who are new to the industry or maybe have just changed jobs within the industry," explains Frantz. "It's a chance to pick up on a new technology or new aspect of technology before we get into the regular sessions."

The NFOEC Sunday afternoon workshop, "On the Health and Wealth of the Optical Communications Industry," will be 4-6 pm. Organized by Mehran Esfandiari of SBC Communications and Shahab Etemed of Telcordia Technologies, the session will look at the health of the fiber-optic industry, examine how the current capital-expenditure crunch has affected planning for network enhancements, and explore any "killer applications" that may be on the horizon.

Technical program
Three speakers will take part in the Monday morning plenary session, hosted by Dave Burns, group president of professional services at Telcordia. Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Communications Group, will talk about combining optoelectronic assets at the component and module level to achieve customer solutions. Tim Sullivan, president of optical networking at Lucent Technologies, will discuss how to make service-provider networks more profitable. Fred Chang, head of SBC/Southwestern Bell's Technology Resources, is also scheduled to speak.

Always a highlight of NFOEC, the technical program will span three days with 270 papers delivered in 48 technical sessions, two poster sessions, and six panel discussions. "We had roughly 40% more papers submitted this year, which is astounding in the face of the industry's health and welfare at the moment," reasons Frantz. "We were surprised by that dramatic increase."

The 48 sessions, organized into six parallel tracks, include network architecture and control; network planning and deployment; monitoring and managing optical networks; optical transmission systems; physical components and equipment; and business drivers and strategies (see Table). The technical program also features six panel discussions held throughout the week. Topics include "The reality of 40-Gbit/sec optical systems," "Perspectives for an industry recovery," "When will metro optical networking take off?," "Operational simplicity in today's transport systems," "Wavelength stability: Market needs and improved economics," and "Switching in the optical domain."

The increase in technical-paper submissions has enabled NFOEC to host two poster sessions, both of which will occur in "primetime," says Frantz, "unlike other conferences where poster sessions are kind of afterthoughts that are held in the evening." Session 1, "Network design, analysis, and management," will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 3-5 pm, while Session 2, "Building, measuring, and maintaining the physical network," will be on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 1:30-3:30 pm. The poster sessions will be held in rooms adjacent to the exhibition floor and open to all attendees.

Frantz says the 420-440 exhibitors he expects this year is a slight increase over last year. "We've been seeing some churn," he says. "There are mergers, there are withdrawals, but there are also new companies coming in. One of the things we will see is what SuperComm just reported and what OFC reported previously, which is that companies are taking perhaps smaller booths or bringing slightly fewer people to staff their booths than they would have in previous years."

NFOEC 2002 will feature extended exhibit hours. The floor will be open on Monday (Sept. 16), 12:30-6:30 pm; Tuesday, 12:20-6:30 pm; and Wednesday 12-3:30 pm.

NFOEC technical programTuesday, Sept.178:30 amSession 1Metro networksOptimization analysesNetwork engineering and managementThe reality of 40-Gbit/sec optical systems*Fiber and cableNetwork economics

10:30 am
Session 2
Metro/regional networks
Ring and mesh networks
Faults, impairments, and losses
40-Gbit/sec transmission
Perspectives on an industry recovery*

1:30 pm
Session 3
Intelligent networks
When will metro optical networking take off?*
Dispersion measurement
Traffic and transport
Switching technologies
Metro-network economics

Wednesday, Sept.188:30 amSession 4Crossconnects and switchingNetwork economics and architecturesOperational simplicity in today's transport systems*WDM devices and transmissionWavelength stability: Market needs and improved economics*Network architecture and protocols

10:30 am
Session 5
Switching in the optical domain*
The physical layer
WDM/DWDM networks
Switching and regeneration
Network layers

3:30 pm
Session 6
Provisioning; transport costs
Measuring and monitoring dispersion
Optical components

Thursday, Sept. 198:30 amSession 7EthernetPackets and protocolsNetwork protectionServices and deliveryComponent/device dispersionSwitches and crossconnects

10:30 am
Session 8
Delivering services
Optical switching
Components and network elements
Transmission over fiber
DWDM economics

1:30 pm
Session 9
Protecting service
WDM & DWDM systems
Short-reach, metro, and regional networks
Simulation and modeling
MEMS devices
Ethernet; storage networks

  • Panel discussion