Optical Connections Industry Focus 2022-2023


Inevitably, with the new year rapidly approaching, it’s tempting to speculate about the direction the industry will take in 2023, so we decided to ask three experts in their fields how they thought the next 12 months would unfold. SCALE, SIMPLICITY, SUSTAINABILITY OPTICAL NETWORKS IN 2023:

TERRESTRIAL FIBRE Serge Melle , Director, IP-Optical Product Marketing, Nokia, says that going into 2023, a common trend that is expected to continue is network operators’ need to further scale their optical networks. The industry is in the midst of major build-outs of high-speed access infrastructures; either Distributed Access Architectures (DAA) by cable operators, increased fibreisation and deployment of Passive Optical Networks (PONs) by CSPs, and continuing 5G roll-outs and mobile traffic backhaul. All of these will put continued pressure to sustainably and economically scale metro and long- haul optical networks. He says, “Some new technology developments that will provide the next milestones in sustaining this need for bandwidth growth include the next generation of coherent optics becoming available and leveraging the now maturing industry eco-system for 5nm silicon integrated circuits. These new performance-optimised coherent photonic engines are expected to incorporate several new innovations, including tight co-optimisation of coherent modem digital signal processors (DSPs) and silicon photonic (SiP) modulators and detectors, integrated into digital coherent optic

operators to double the capacity of their existing fibre optic networks, without incurring the significant cost and time delays associated with building new fibre optic cable infrastructures. Whereas C+L optical line systems were until recently used in a select few networks, they are now seeing ever-wider adoption across both long-haul and metro networks with network operators across the globe. One can expect to see new capabilities in C+L line systems that further simplify and facilitate their use in these applications.” PERFORMANCE Fujitsu’s CTO and optical expert Rod Naphan believes there are three key areas which will see development in the coming year; performance in long-haul networks, simplification in the network, and sustainability. Citing recent research by Cignal.AI which estimates long-haul will grow three times faster than Metro in the coming years, the said he believed this to be the case due to the growth of 5G, the move towards remote working in suburban areas, and the webscale companies pushing the envelope on bit rates. He added, “On performance, a lot of the bit rates today are 100G, in the long haul. but I think the new currency will be 400G. There’s 800G systems today, but the higher 800G systems running in the 90-something baud rate

(DCO) transceiver modules that operate at speeds of 120Gbaud or higher, and capable of wavelength speeds of 1.2 terabits per second (Tbps). This will enable more efficient coherent transport by reducing power per bit, and enable network operators to deploy fewer coherent optics for a given amount of network capacity; thereby further reducing network power consumption, and lowering total cost of operations (TCO).” This trend of close DSP-SiP integration, he adds, will also drive the next generation of pluggable DCOs optimised for use in router ports, supporting speeds of 800Gbps per wavelength, which are expected to make their appearance later in 2023 or early 2024. Also leveraging 5nm silicon node technology, these will be optimised to leverage the gains of Moore’s Law towards reducing power consumption, in order to fit into standardised transceiver form factors such as QSFP-DD800 or OSFP 4.0. In other parts of the optical network, Melle says that another area to watch in 2023 is the ever-greater use of WDM optical line systems that support operation across C and L bands of the fibre spectrum. He explains, “These so- called ‘C+L’ line systems enable network




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