Future proof

Jetlagged visitors to both ECOC in Copenhagen and NFOEC in Dallas can attest to light traffic on exhibit floors and endless pondering over where the market is going and when it will improve. Amid the concern, I was encouraged to see a growing sense of realism about current conditions. More and more companies are accepting the fact that this market will be with us for some time to come and that we should make our plans accordingly.

Balancing the applications and services that technology could enable with what the market will actually support has proven elusive in the telecommunications industry. In a sense, we have all been guilty of favoring technology over market reality. But on the other hand, that's how we make things better. A case in point is the dynamic optical systems on display at NFOEC. Multiple vendors have incorporated into their systems components such as tunable lasers and filters, reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers, and dynamic gain equalizers. We don't know when carriers will actually purchase these systems, but we can all see the powerful economic and technical advantages that will result when the systems are deployed

More technologies are becoming available to improve the effectiveness and lower the costs of metro and long-haul WDM networks. In this issue, Charles Ufongene and Raymond Boncek at OFS show that zero-water-peak fiber and wavelength assignment techniques can greatly enhance coarse WDM metro networks. Viktoria Temesváry-Díaz at Integrated Micromachines discusses the advantages of electromagnetic MEMS in all-optical crossconnects. And Ross Saunders at Ceyba argues that the path to 40-Gbit/s deployment relies on an intelligent combination with 10-Gbit/s technology.

We also have an article on the time-proven etalon, by Ken Kaufmann at Hamamatsu. A technology that has been in use since the early days of the laser remains critical to wavelength stability in fixed wavelength and dynamic optical systems today. It's a lesson in the importance of fundamentals as new generations of technology are introduced and find their market potential.

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