Coming into Los Angeles

March 1, 2012
The optical communications community will descend into Los Angeles this month, bringing in more than a couple of kilos of expectations ...

by Stephen Hardy

The optical communications community will descend into Los Angeles this month, bringing in more than a couple of kilos of expectations, questions, research results, and technology new and old. Here are the topics I expect will be discussed most frequently in the sessions, break rooms, and show floor.

100 Gbps everywhere.The conference will feature presentations on what comes next, but much of the show floor action will focus on deploying 100G in the near term. The big news will be the impending availability (or, in the case of Opnext at the very least, the current sampling) of 100-Gbps coherent-based transponders. Besides Opnext, Oclaro and Fujitsu Optical Components also have promised transponders by April. Meanwhile, we can expect others (like, say, JDSU) to discuss when they’ll join the party. And I expect we’ll see a lot about alternatives to DP-QPSK and coherent detection.

We also should see a fair amount of attention paid to Optical Transport Network (OTN) OTU4 technology and application.

Meanwhile, with OFC/NFOEC organizers placing emphasis on enterprise requirements complementing the carriers’ need for client-side interfaces, 100 Gigabit Ethernet (and the more economical 40 Gigabit Ethernet) also will see the spotlight. We can expect the PMD wars to continue between 10x10 Gbps and 4x25 Gbps that erupted last year when the 10x10 MSA made a stand at OFC/NFOEC 2010. In some ways, the momentum created at that show has dissipated over the succeeding 12 months as few module vendors within the MSA actually brought products to the market. We’ll see if that changes in 2012. Also, we’ll see plenty of discussion about future CFP2 and QSFP2 to increase blade and line-card densities.

Flexible networking. Truly agile networks (as the article on page 12 highlights) require the interplay of several technologies, all of which will be discussed at the show. Wavelength-selective-switch technology for ROADMs will prove to be a focus, particularly those that support gridless operation. The quest for colorless, directionless, and contentionless ROADMs will continue – even though the jury remains out regarding how much demand exists for contentionless capabilities. And at least some systems vendors will tout the value of gridless capabilities now, well before carriers need to consider how to accommodate 400-Gbps/1-Tbps transmission schemes.

Meanwhile, the roster of companies with tunable XFPs should reach critical mass. The next step, of course, is tunable SFP+ devices, with JDSU once again in the lead. Expect several of that company’s competitors to describe their tunable SFP+ rollout plans.

At the systems level, we can expect plenty of discussion about packet-optical transport, whether based on OTN-friendly P-OTS platforms, IP over DWDM approaches, or the label-switched router scheme Juniper Networks debuted at last year’s event (and that should be just about ready for delivery at this year’s).

And naturally, there will be one or two topics coming out of nowhere that capture attendees’ attention. If you’re going, stop by the Lightwave booth or stop me to say hello in the hallways.

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