What to expect at OFC 2022

March 30, 2022
Whether you attend live -- the organizers' preference -- or virtually, there will be plenty to take in at OFC 2022 in San Diego this March.

The organizers of OFC 2022 – Optica, the IEEE Communications Society, and the IEEE Photonics Society – look forward to once again welcoming live attendees (as well as some online ones) to the San Diego Convention Center March 6-10 after last year’s COVID-induced all-virtual event. To help lure engineers, researchers, academics, marketers, and others interested in optical communications and related technologies out of their pandemic hiding places, the conference committees have assembled a variety of sessions, symposia, and special events that promise to highlight the latest technology advances as well as hint at what optical communications networks might look like in the future.

Together again

Three general chairs – Shinji Matsuo of NTT Device Tech Labs, David Plant of McGill University, and Jun Shan Wey of Verizon Communications Inc. – oversaw planning for this year’s conference, which is broken into three main tracks:

  1. Track D: Components, Devices, and Fiber
  2. Track S: Systems and Subsystems
  3. Track N: Networks, Applications, and Access (which includes the Market Watch, Network Operator Summit, and Data Center Summit exhibit hall programs).

Wey, responsible for Track N (and a member of the OFC Steering Committee), said in a January interview that if this year’s OFC has an overall theme, it’s establishing 2022 as the milestone when the industry was able to reconnect after two years of COVID and move forward in person and online. However they participate, attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about what’s hot as well as emerging areas that the conference committees identified as worthy of attention.

Based on the quantity and quality of paper submissions this year, Wey identified the following as hot topics that the programming will reflect:

  • Advanced DSPs
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML)
  • Co-packaging
  • Coherent pluggable transceivers
  • Data center optics at greater than 400G
  • Emerging architectures for 5G and edge networks
  • High-speed PON
  • Photonic integrated circuits (PICs)
  • Space-division multiplexing (SDM) for submarine networks
  • Quantum communications.

These topics will appear multiple times throughout the conference program as well as special events. For example, the Rump Session on Tuesday, March 8, from 7:30 to 9:30 PM, will debate whether quantum research will produce commercial products anytime soon. Wey says the sessions that cover these topics and others will include several reports of world records as well as exemplary innovation. Wey’s picks for presentations of special interest can be found in the sidebar, “The Chair Suggests You Don’t Miss These Sessions.”

Meanwhile, the chairs plan to bring attendees’ attention via symposia and special sessions to several topics they believe warrant attention. These include:

  • Symposia
    • Optical Satellite Communications – Entering a New Era; Monday, March 7, 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Multi-access Network Leveraging Edge Computing for Energy-efficient, Ultra-reliable, and Low Latency Services; Monday, March 7, 2:00 PM - 6:30 PM
    • Emerging Photonic Interconnects and Architectures for Femtojoule per Bit Intra Data Center Links; Tuesday, March 8, 2:00 PM - 6:30 PM
  • Special Sessions
    • Reflections on the Pandemic; Monday, March 7, 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Network Intelligence; Wednesday, March 9, 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
    • Network Evolution & Adaptation to Environmental Change; Wednesday, March 9, 2:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Plenary plenty

Of course, the Plenary Session promises big picture presentations from big name speakers from 8:00 to 10:00 AM on Tuesday, March 8. They include:

  • John Bowers, director of the Institute of Energy Efficiency, University of California, Santa Barbara, who will discuss the “Present and Future Silicon Photonics.” Bowers will not only highlight the current state of silicon photonics but discuss how the technology can be applied beyond optical communications to such applications as sensors, navigation, and Internet of Things.
  • James Green, scientist and senior advisor at NASA, who will highlight “Exploration Technologies: Communicating with Spacecraft, Landers, Rovers, and Human Missions.” Green will reveal that NASA is looking for optical communications technology that can support human activities on the Moon and Mars.
  • Elise Neel, senior vice president, Verizon New Business Incubation, who will review “5G and the Promise of Industry 4.0.” Neel will explain her belief that 5G will provide a communications foundation for Industry 4.0 and enable fully autonomous, self-improving processes that match work to the most appropriate set of resources – whether they be human, robot, drone, or other machines.

New this year, according to Wey, will be a “Plenary Q&A” session with the plenary presenters in a special session on the exhibit floor. The session will take place in Theater III on Tuesday at 10:45 AM, shortly after the Plenary Session ends.

Hit the floor

Speaking of the exhibit floor, attendees will find plenty of programming at three theaters set up among the booths. OFC’s mainstay Market Watch sessions will unfurl across all three days of the exhibition, joined by the Data Center Summit on Tuesday, March 8, and the Network Operator Summit on Wednesday, March 9. Visitors also can attend more than a dozen other presentations in between these anchor events. Information on timing and location of the exhibit floor programming is available on the conference website as well as in several locations on site once OFC begins.

Of course, while you’re in the exhibit hall, the show organizers hope that you’ll stop by a few booths. While a few familiar names likely will be either missing or represented by a smaller number of employees, there still should be plenty of new technology to see in action. For an overview of what Lightwave thinks will be the salient discussion points on the show floor, read the sidebar “Three hot topics for exhibit floor conversation.”

The emphasis at OFC 2022 will rest on finally getting back to face-to-face discussion. However, virtual attendance options are available, and Wey points out that attendees can register as an in-person visitor and switch to a virtual presence if their plans change. Regardless of how you attend, there will certainly be plenty of educational opportunities in San Diego March 6-10.

STEPHEN HARDY is editorial director of Lightwave.

[Sidebar 1]

The chair suggests you don’t miss these sessions


While a thorough presentation review process ensures high quality throughout the OFC conference program, some talks will be worth an extra effort to attend, according to conference co-chair Jun Shan Wey. Here are two from each of the Devices (D), Network (N), and Systems (S) tracks she believes you won’t want to miss.

  • D Track:
    • Th1J.2: “Thin-Film Lithium Niobate DP-IQ Modulator for Driverless 130 Gbaud 64 QAM Transmission”
      • Presenter: Mengyue Xu, Sun Yat-Sen University
    • M2D.4: “A 240 Gb/s PAM4 Silicon Micro-Ring Optical Modulator”
      • Presenter: Meer Nazmus Sakib, Intel Corporation
  • N Track:
    • M1F.2: “SDM Enabled Record Field Trial Achieving 300+ Tbps Trans-Atlantic Transmission Capacity”
      • Presenter: Siddharth Varughese, Infinera Corporation
    • M4F.4: “Experimental Demonstration of a Metro Area Network with Terabit-Capable Sliceable Bitrate Variable Transceiver Using Direct Modulated VCSELs and Coherent Detection”
      • Presenter: Josep Fabrega, Centre Tecnologic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (CTTC/CERCA)
  • S Track:
    • M4B.1: “First Demonstration of Uncoupled 4-Core Multicore Fiber in a Submarine Cable Prototype with Integrated Multicore EDFA”
      • Presenter: Hitoshi Takeshita, NEC Corporation
    • M3H.1: “High Information Rate of 128-GBaud 1.8-Tb/s and 64-GBaud 1.03-Tb/s Signal Generation and Detection Using Frequency-Domain 8×2 MIMO Equalization”
      • Presenter: Masanori Nakamura, NTT Network Innovation Laboratories

[Sidebar 2]

Optica’s Executive Forum returns March 7


Optica’s Executive Forum will return to OFC in 2022. Slated for Monday, March 7, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, the event will once again bring together a variety of C-level panelists and keynoters who will discuss the major business trends in the optical communications space.

This year’s Executive Forum will feature a keynote presentation by Keri Gilder, CEO, Colt Technology Services, who will provide her thoughts on the necessary characteristics of “The Modern Telco.” Four panels and a roundtable will follow:

  • Subsea Cable
  • Fixed Access Solutions from the Business Perspective: Focus on Funding and Can Tech Keep up with Investments?
  • Near-Packaged, Co-Packaged, and Pluggable Optics: What’s Their Future in the Data Center?
  • Operationalizing Coherent DWDM Optics in Increasingly Diverse Deployment Environments
  • Business Fireside Chat: Just in Time or Just in Case – Building a Resilient Supply Chain in a Post-COVID World

More information and registration details are available from the Events section of the Optica website.

[Sidebar 3]

Three hot topics for exhibit floor conversation


There will be plenty to talk about on the OFC 2022 exhibit show floor in San Diego. But here are four topics that likely will be among the dominant subjects.

Co-packaged optics versus pluggables: The OSFP-XD, and its potential to provide an alternative to co-packaged optics (CPO), was the big news at last year’s event. A pluggable approach to next-generation I/O has plenty of adherents – but won’t stop the work being put into CPO (at least not anytime soon). This debate will play out in the Market Watch and other exhibit hall programming as well as in the aisles.

IP over DWDM: You’ll likely see 400ZR/ZR+ and Open ROADM coherent modules across the show floor. While many of these will initially find homes in data center interconnect applications, the possibility of using them in service provider router-to-router connections is anticipated. Alongside such discussions, you’ll also hear about IP/optical layer integration.

800G – and even greater transmission rates: Coherent 800G will pop up in more places this year on the show floor, one would expect. Advances towards 800G coherent pluggables should be highlighted as well. Meanwhile, there will be a lot of discussion about 800G Ethernet technology. But getting to 1.6 and 3.2 Tbps – potentially leveraging technology developed for CPO – will also be discussed.

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