Optical Connections Magazine Summer 2022

Bringing the World the Latest in Optical Communications News

ISSUE 29 | Q2 2022


FTTH COUNCIL EUROPE: Vincent Garnier Briefing | p8

EPIC CEO INTERVIEW: James Regan | p14

SENSE AND SENSITIVITY: Subsea sensing with fibre | p16


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A SENSE OF SUMMER Welcome to the summer edition of Optical Connections. In this issue, we go from the depths of the sea to the heights of senior management. We talk to senior experts from Nokia and Alcatel Submarine Networks about Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) which effectively turns a fibre into a microphone. When it’s lying exposed on the seabed, a cable is vulnerable to damage by everything from ships to earthquakes, but these threats can be mitigated and often predicted using DAS. Ahead of the FTTH Council Europe’s annual conference on 23rd – 25th May in Vienna, I talk with the Council’s Director General Vincent Garnier, about the state of FTTH in Europe, the Council’s latest initiatives and promoting a more sustainable and greener fibre industry. Still on the topic of Europe, we publish an exclusive interview by Carlos Lee, Director General of the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) with James Regan, CEO of EFFECT Photonics, a provider of highly integrated optical communications products based on its optical System-on-Chip (SoC) technology, about James’ career and the development of the company. Regular contributor John Williamson looks at how networks can be kept up and running, given that as ever more human activities are conducted online over optical networks, the detrimental consequences of service disruptions and outages loom much larger. He notes the upshot today is an intensifying industry focus on the development and deployment of tools and methodologies with the potential to minimise downtime and boost optical network resilience and up-time. This is taking place when any prospective threat to resilience, caused by additional complexity, is rising in some network applications. Also, the well-know telecoms writer Antony Savvas wisely writes that if you want to know what’s going to happen in the optical industry next, it’s often worth asking the test and measurement companies what they think they will need to develop next, and he does exactly that. He takes a look at software evaluation, compliance, chips and PICs to find out the latest developments.


Industry News


FTTH Council Europe Briefing Vincent Garnier

11 Keeping the Lights On John Williamson

14 EPIC CEO Briefing James Regan

16 Fibre Optic Sensing Peter Dykes

18 Network Testing Antony Savvas

20 Event Focus

All this plus a look back at OFC, our regular Event Focus feature, and some of the latest and most innovative fibre-related products.

24 Product News

Peter Dykes Contributing Editor


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ISSUE 29 | Q2 2022


Datacom optical component revenue nears US$5B in 2021

and telecom transceivers across multiple module types and reaches. Shipments of 400GbE datacom modules doubled and reached record levels in 2021, as large cloud operators and select enterprise customers transitioned from 100G to this new speed. “The transition to 400GbE is well underway, and pluggable coherent 400Gbps technology is revolutionising the design of the optical networks that connect data centers,” said Scott Wilkinson, lead optical component analyst at Cignal AI. “400Gbps speeds will drive spending and bandwidth growth

Cloud operator capex for hyperscale datacenter expansion drove datacom optical component revenue growth by 27% to reach US$4.7 billion in 2021, as reported in Cignal AI’s new Optical Components Report. This growth outstripped component revenue growth from telecom, consumer, and industrial

VI is poised to control over 50% of this market. So far as shipments are concerned, Cignal AI says 1.8 million QSFP-DD datacom modules shipped during 2021, most of which were DR4 format; over 60,000 400Gbps pluggable coherent modules shipped last year, the majority of which were QSFP-DD ZR and shipments of 200Gbps coherent CFP2 modules grew 17% to just over 200,000 units during 2021 as Chinese OEMs ramp this speed (which is less dependent on western technology) for longer distance metro and long- haul applications.

both inside and outside the datacenter in 2022.” The report noted that supply chain difficulties limited Telecom optical components market growth the most in 2021. However, the segment is forecast to grow more than 8% in 2022, and consumer component revenue for 3D sensing applications was flat year-on-year as lower- cost components offset higher unit shipments. It also found that industrial optical components used for welding and medical applications grew 18% in 2021, following a weak 2020, and following the acquisition of Coherent, II-

optical component applications. Total revenue for optical

components across all four segments grew 15% to reach US$14.5 billion in 2021. The Optical Components Report also tracks detailed unit shipments of datacom

Emtelle set for US expansion

team.blue Denmark taps Ciena for DCI

team.blue Denmark, part of the hosting and cloud solutions team.blue Group, has selected Ciena’s Waveserver AI platform to serve as the foundation for its WAN-ring, providing point-to-point metro data centre interconnect (DCI) network service between sites. Ciena’s Waveserver Ai platform delivers up to 2.4 Tbps in a single rack unit to tackle large scalability challenges. Intuitive to install and easy to operate, Waveserver Ai utilises a familiar operational toolset and can be managed through industry-standard open APIs and data models. The

while providing the capacity needed to support surging bandwidth demands in the metro. “We needed a solution to extend the capabilities of our current dark fibre infrastructure. It needed to be powerful, easy to use, and extremely stable while also being ultra-efficient in terms of power and size,” said Michael Munk Lassen, principal systems architect & head of Technology, Infrastructure, team.blue. “Ciena’s Waveserver Ai platform meets this need and enables us to create a simple

North American customer base by providing its first fully ‘Made in The USA’ range of microducts, conduits and eventually its full complement of product solutions for Fibre to the Home (FTTH) applications. The expansion further increases Emtelle’s global footprint, which compliments its established manufacturing facilities in the UK, Denmark, Germany and the recently announced acquisition of Dubai-based telecoms ducts manufacturer AfriPipes.

Hawick, Scotland- based blown fibre company Emtelle Group, is to expand into North America with a manufacturing facility in the US. The 300,000 sq ft factory space owned by Mainetti Retail Solutions will house up to 200 workers and enhance Emtelle’s offering to the US FTTx industry, which it currently serves through existing supply agreements and distribution partners in the region. Emtelle says the new facility will better position the company to serve its

point-to-point network between sites currently

providing up to 8x100G on a single dark fibre which can be scaled further if needed.”

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| ISSUE 29 | Q2 2022



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ISSUE 29 | Q2 2022


Deutsche Giga Access taps Adtran for FTTH

network controller supports ultra-short micro-release schedules which speed time-to-market. This enables DGA to lower its cost to build, operate, innovate and maintain its network compared to its legacy solutions. Adtran also enabled DGA to deliver proactive support and services from an open, cloud-based platform for greater adaptability, security and updates at scale. As a result, the company says, DGA can reduce support tickets and improve customer satisfaction.

Deutsche Giga Access GmbH (DGA) has selected the Adtran’s SDX Series of fibre access platforms to offer its customers scalable FTTH service capabilities. Adtran says its Combo PON technology and the software-defined architecture were differentiators that provided DGA a path to market. They also provided DGA with the flexibility to simultaneously operate 1G and 10G FTTH networks on the same point-to-multipoint, fibre optic distribution network from a single OLT port. The Adtran SDN-based

area in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany, and Adtran provided the right combination of technology, products, local support and domain experience,” said Andreas Bamberg, chief technology officer at Deutsche Giga Access GmbH. “We chose Adtran because its approach allowed us to build a new, open-access wholesale network for future- proof services that can be controlled by an end-to-end automatization management system, providing tremendous operational savings and efficiencies as demand for our wholesale offering grows.”

DGA, a regional wholesale access provider in Germany, will help service providers connect homes and businesses with modern broadband service in selected regions across the country. DGA will be doing its part to meet Europe’s digital agenda objectives ensuring fair, open and secure digital environments that will create the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish and maximise the digital economy’s growth potential. “DGA wanted to quickly deploy a Gigabit-capable FTTH network to a new

Infinera ups capacity for PCCW, Hetzner

Havhingsten subsea cable system completed

resistance to hydrogen penetration, an element which is unfavourable to the operation of optical fibre in ocean waters. The end-to-end system also features an unrepeatered subsea segment in the Irish Sea, a terrestrial segment in the UK and a repeatered segment in the North Sea. Typical systems have one or two of these elements, but not all three. The system used an enhanced, jet-assisted burial plough in the North and Irish Sea segments, allowing installers to bury the cable to specific depths in very challenging seabed conditions. Meta says, “Subsea cables are part of our continued efforts to invest in foundational infrastructure to keep up with demand for the internet now, and build for the metaverse in the future. We know bringing the metaverse to life will require major advances in underlying connectivity infrastructure.”

Aqua Comms, Bulk Fibre, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) and Meta, have announced the completion the construction of the Havhingsten cable system, which runs across the Irish Sea from the north of Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland, to south of Blackpool on the west coast of the UK, with a section also linking into the Isle of Man, and from Seaton Sluice in Northumberland to Denmark. The partners say the Havhingsten cable system boasts several innovations in its design and construction and is the world’s first aluminium conductor powered subsea cable system. The removal of traditional copper raw material, and replacement with aluminium from the manufacturing process, improves efficiency and cost reduction, as copper is associated with variable availability and higher price. Additional benefits include improved

Utilising its ICE technology, Infinera has raised fibre capacity for international CSP PCCW Global and German data centre operator and web host Hetzner Online. The deployment by PCCW is on the PEACE subsea cable system between Marsei lle, Cyprus and Abu Talat. Uti l ising Infinera’s ICE technology, PCCW Global now offers network operators the abi l ity to increase capacity per fibre pair on its Middle East and Mediterranean fibre routes. Infinera says that by leveraging its ICE technology on the GX Series Compact Modular Platform, PCCW Global is able to reach individual wavelength speeds of 650Gbs resulting in more capacity, with less hardware, and providing

up to 25 terabits per fibre pair, meaning network operators can provide high-capacity services between the Middle East and the Mediterranean region. The capacity upgrade on the PEACE cable system is one of a series of upgrades planned for this year. As the first and only open cable system in the Mediterranean Sea, the PEACE cable system can support numerous service providers in the region. Hetzner Onl ine’s deployment of Infinera’s ICE6 solution, with potential transmission

speeds of up to 800 Gbps, wi ll modernise

Hetzner Onl ine’s existing network and enable the company to offer new 400 GbE services across its network to meet the surging bandwidth demands of its customers.


| ISSUE 29 | Q2 2022


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With FTTH rollouts across Europe well under way, and the FTTH Council Europe’s annual conference and expo which is taking place on 23 -25 May in Vienna, the Council’s Director General Vincent Garnier discussed the state of FTTH in Europe and the Council’s latest initiatives with Optical Connections editor Peter Dykes .

Are you expecting a massive rise in homes passed or connected when the new Market Panorama

In which areas of the fibre industry is the public and private finance being invested, and what

market only where it makes sense, such as in areas where deploying networks is not commercially viable. Where to draw the line between which areas should be left to competition and which ones does it makes sense to use public money? Sometimes it is a balancing act. Fixed Wireless Access will no doubt be used as an alternative to FTTH in some rural areas, but how much traction do you think it will have in urban areas? PD



is published?

are the deciding factors?

I think the pace of the last years has been quite solid and we are expecting a continuation of that

In most of Europe we’re seeing a lot of investment being poured into fibre deployment, with most



growth rate for the foreseeable future. 2022 is going to be a very strong year and we expect that to continue for the next three years and that’s what will appear in the forecast when we release it in May. One reason why the growth is continuous is that even though some countries might plateau to some extent, for example, France has already reached close to 85% its rollout plan and will become asymptotic at some point, Germany, Italy and the UK are behind that curve and are still enjoying a very strong growth and will do so in the years to come.

of it coming from the private sector. Fibre networks are perceived by investors interested in long term positions as a safe and predictable long-term investment and something which would give them a stable return. So, a lot of private pension and infrastructure funds are now looking at fibre after having maybe looked at towers or other kinds of utilities. We see, of course, public investments. Our position at the council is that we want to be careful to make sure that public investments are channelled towards a future proof network, but also be added to the commercially driven part of the

The way we look at it in the Council is that, first of all, FTTH is at many levels a superior


solution compared to fixed wireless access, it is fully passive, so therefore, it’s much more robust. There is no risk of interference and no risk linked to active components which can malfunction. It also has a much lower


| ISSUE 29 | Q2 2022



PD How are national governments adapting their digital agendas to EU Commission’s target for digital transformation of Europe by 2030?

practices from the entire value chain of FTTH deployment. It’s not only a question of product, not only a question of rollout methodology and processes, it is not only a question of maintenance, it’s the end-to-end chain around FTTH which has to question itself on how to make every single step more sustainable, emit less carbon and be greener. We have started that process will keep on going in that direction, but I think we now have to ask how we make sure our industry makes the effort it has to. The second thing is that fibre in itself, as a passive infrastructure, compared to cable or fixed wireless access is the most carbon neutral broadband access technology by far. There is no comparison between an HFC network with multiple nodes which need to be powered individually and a fully passive fibre system. Moreover, fibre is a much more robust technology which requires far less maintenance than copper or HFC networks, which limits maintenance work, meaning fewer truck rolls and less visits for field technicians, which also has an environmental impact. Fibre in itself is the greenest available broadband technology, and as it is future proof, it’s also an enabler of multiple applications which will be essential in managing the transition towards a greener society. So, there are multiple levels to our discussion, including the promotion of fibre for its benefits, the promotion of high-speed connectivity and more generally speaking, fibre itself, which we think is the best option as an enabler of broadband.

energy consumption compared to anything which uses radio and a lot of active equipment, and so we believe that as far as possible, priority should be given to full fibre connectivity. We also understand however, that in some areas, it might take a while before every household is fully connected and fixed wireless access could be seen as a useful transition technology, especially if the existing legacy network has very poor bandwidth. So, it’s fully understandable that some regions want it now and that don’t want to wait another two or three years before they have decent connectivity. From that perspective, running on fixed wireless access based on 4G is far superior to relying on a low-quality network, so for us, it’s a transition technology, or an exception. But when we say an exception, we are talking about 1%, or less of the number of households using fixed wireless access where really, there is absolutely no justification to spend a disproportionate amount of investment to reach a couple of houses. In urban areas, the FTTH Council, doesn’t really see the justification for fixed wireless access. Having full fibre technology deployed in dense urban areas has proven to be commercially viable and offering a much more stable and future proof solution. Technically, it’s possible to have fixed wireless access within urban areas, and then it’s people’s choice to choose between different solutions, however, we would definitely not want to encourage any government to subsidise or favour fixed wireless access. One of the risks we see is that if fixed wireless access is considered as an equivalent, or as good a solution as FTTH, the risk is that within a few years we will create a new digital divide where fibre will have adapted and scaled up to support the evolution of bandwidth requirements while fixed wireless access will struggle to scale to the required level. The reason why we’re putting fibre in the ground now is not for today, it’s more importantly for future generations. You’re not spending billions every generation on infrastructure, so when you make that effort, as far as possible you want to do it for good and make sure that all the disruption caused by digging the streets and putting fibre in the ground is done just once, and you don’t have to redo it every 10 years. If you equip one area with a solution which is very likely to become obsolete in 10 years’ time, you need to think twice before you do it.

Speaking about the EU institutions specifically, the interesting thing with the role


played by the Commission lately is the toolbox that has been proposed for all member states, which is basically a set of best practices made available for national governments. There is also the requirement by the Commission for each country to set up a roadmap, which is the country’s choice of actions and priorities to reach the target in line with the general guidance brought by the Commission, with yearly reporting as part of that process. The Commission is just starting to implement the plan and is equipping every member state with a lot of data, a lot of best practices they can choose from, asking each country to come up with a roadmap and will agree on the target activity and monitoring with each country on an annual basis. The progress and allocation of funds from the Recovery Fund is also linked to that process and the Commission will not bring EU money to telecoms and fibre investment without this prerequisite and visibility on how the money is going to be allocated. However, as we are we are still at the beginning of the process, it’s too early to draw a conclusion on how it will work and be implemented. But what I heard from the executive vice president Margrethe Vestager at an event yesterday is that a detailed report is being shared with the Commission and many countries are taking it extremely seriously and are coming up with very robust plans.

On the environment, what is the FTTH Council doing to promote sustainability and a


greener society?

This is becoming a central topic especially thanks to the coronavirus and the


circumstances around it. Increasingly people are seeing the move towards digital and the move towards a more carbon neutral society as two sides of the same coin. What we are doing at the Council first of all, is we are talking about that subject in our events. Indeed, it’s been part of our digital online events since 2020 and there will be panels around that theme in Vienna. We have also set up a dedicated committee and we are gathering best

Vincent Garnier, Director General, FTTH Council Europe



ISSUE 29 | Q2 2022




Networks require ever-higher speeds. To enable tomorrow’s applications, fibre is being deployed deeper into the network. Service providers and operators often assume this requires vast amounts of costly fibre to be deployed—but there’s another way…

The solution has been especially designed for EU and UK use. Existing poles and chambers, which are often congested, can be easily used to realise the fastest and most cost-effective deployment approach. Self-guided automatic alignment and self-locking mechanisms help eliminate connection errors and accidental release. Networks can use Prodigy connectors and adapters with CommScope’s NOVUX hardened terminals wherever space is at a premium. CommScope provides a wide range of product families, accessories, add-ons, tailor-made solutions, and services. We support you throughout the entire network with active and passive end-to- end infrastructure. We are happy to provide advice, training and design support, or help manage your logistics and supply chain. With our ePlanner, architects and FTTx Planning & Design teams can evaluate design requirements and select the most suitable network architecture for any application.

Standardised interfaces make it easier for service providers to train technicians and improve the quality and success of their installations. Common features among all NOVUX components mean less training and less inventory is needed for network builds, expansions and upgrades. Service providers can move faster with reduced product delivery times and the ability to configure fibre solutions. A common platform, backed by consistent documentation and training, makes installation across the series easy and efficient. NOVUX connector closure drop network components remove complexities from network planning and expansion, enable fibre deployment deeper into the network, and add agility and scalability. The Octopus™ gel seal protects equipment from harsh conditions and

To adapt to fast-changing market demands, operators need to evolve quickly while providing the flexibility to work seamlessly with any field application. Closing the fibre gap and realising ubiquitous broadband involves many challenges and requires smart solutions. Deployments need to be fast and easy to meet tight deadlines and time-to-market schedules. What’s more, a lack of skilled technicians is making this especially challenging. CommScope is committed to simplifying and speeding up deployments by making products easy to deploy. We make building infrastructure to serve communities for a long period faster and easier, drastically reducing time to revenue. When we set out to design our NOVUX™ platform, we listened carefully to our customers and learned that they need solutions that deliver reliability today—and decades from now—so they can realise their goals and keep pace with the rapidly changing network environment. Prodigy™, the perfect complement to NOVUX—the complete FTTH ecosystem—is the next evolution in outdoor-ready plug-and-play connections. These technologies are configurable, scalable and simple and provide a solution to the challenges service providers and network operators are facing right now. NOVUX spans the entire outside plant fibre network and includes fibre closures, terminals, hubs, and wall boxes. This product family uses 75 percent fewer components than other products while enabling 50 times more configurations.

allows easy technician entry. The simplicity, responsiveness, and configurability of NOVUX support

competition in a fast-changing business environment with components that can be easily configured to meet future needs. The new Prodigy small-form hardened connector system for fibre terminals and cable assemblies is universally compatible with multiple hardened fibre connectors, making it a game-changer in plug-and- play fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) solutions. The solution has been designed to simplify and speed up ordering and field deployments. Customers only need one cable assembly, which includes the required different lengths. An installer simply runs a drop cable assembly and converts the Prodigy connector to the required connector in the connection box.

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| ISSUE 29 | Q2 2022




As ever more human activities are conducted online over optical networks, the detrimental consequences of service disruptions and outages loom much larger. The upshot today is an intensifying industry focus on the development and deployment of tools and methodologies with the potential to minimise downtime and boost optical network resilience and up-time. This is taking place when any prospective threat to resilience, caused by additional complexity, is rising in some network applications, writes John Williamson .

T ake data centres, for remarks Étienne Gagnon, EXFO’s SVP, est and Measurement Division. “Today’s data centres have up 6,912 fibres to be tested and monitored, versus previous 864-fibre cables – a shift because of higher demand and higher speed transmission.” example. “The challenge in data centres is the increasing complexity inherent in high-density cables and fibres being deployed,” What are likely causes of optical network service interruptions or blackouts? Gagnon cites optical connector failures, poor splicing and faulty fibre spans due to poor fusion or macro-bends.

FITNESS TESTS Successful identification of faults and configuration errors at the development and manufacturing stages in the creation of optical devices and systems clearly has the capacity to impact later service performance. “As with manufacturing in many other industries, you will see corners cut so that cheaper equipment can be manufactured, and that cheaper equipment is purchased often on price,” observes Nick Rowan, Global Lead, Fibre Optic Program Marketing at VIAVI Solutions. “Then you start to see the effect in optical networks as lesser quality usually equates to reduced service performance.” Meticulous testing for, and detection of, defects and errors in the installation and turn-up phase of the optical network lifecycle can also be decisive. “Doing installations and turn-ups following an accepted and/or standardised process is critical to ongoing network performance, especially if it is done absent expert installation,” adds Rowan. Not getting installation right the first time equates to greater overall expense as well as expense overtime, whether it’s a cause/effect of problems further in the network, the need to repeat or correct installations, or both. As such, Rowan

judges ‘right the first time’ must be the installation/turn-up mantra.

“Failing to test in the field and simply relying on manufacturer testing is another contributor to outages,” ventures Gagnon. “Rigorous testing at every stage from production, to deployment, to ongoing test and measurement is key to avoid service interruptions.” TOOLS OF THE TRADE Among the tools used in efforts to troubleshoot and minimise network downtime are fibre inspection solutions, OTDRs, power meters, light sources, and spectrum analysers. Also on the menu, according to Gagnon, are: fibre inspection probes that use automated analysis software to gauge connector performance; automated optical loss field testing to identify and characterise problems; and end-to- end testing using centralised OTDR to monitor fibre networks 24/7. EXFO also acknowledges that dedicated single-function test and monitoring devices are giving way to multifunction solutions. “Absolutely. For example, field technicians can inspect single and multi-fibre cables using the same tool

As well as physical damage to fibre cables, Jose Luis Gonzalez, FTTH Network Architect, EMEA at

CommScope, refers to the difficulty in congested handholes of identifying the correct cable, along with wrong product selection when building the network, such as using indoor materials which are not designed for this purpose. “Making sure your planners and production teams are educated in the correct materials for the job is important,” he stresses.



ISSUE 29 | Q2 2022


routes from source to destination, and operators can protect against multiple fibre breaks. VIAVI makes the distinction between spare capacity and load sharing on redundant paths. “The idea is if you have two paths between points ‘a’ and ‘b’, with proper load sharing, you have enough capacity to dial up payload in near-real- time if one path fails,” notes Rowan. “Load sharing should be a bigger factor than spare capacity – although the two are closely related.” But not all optical links are equal. “Everything needs to be seen in the context of economic viability. The more revenue generating - or mission-critical - traffic is on the fibre, the easier it is to justify additional or more sophisticated protection schemes,” comments Rettenberger. “On the other hand, best- effort residential broadband is typically not very well protected, and operators are just looking to keep repair times low.” Even so, Gonzalez reckons there are advances in cabling for FTTx which make it more resilient than some other applications. He instances hardened connectors that make FTTH installations truly plug-and-play, minimising the risks of connection errors, accidental release, and therefore less likelihood of service interruptions. WHATEVER NEXT? Bolstering optical network resilience is not a static enterprise, and a number newer technologies and tools are coming into sharper focus. One such is active fibre monitoring. “Operators are increasingly interested in active fibre monitoring solutions. These detection systems flag an alarm if the fibre quality is impaired and an outage is likely to happen in the near future,” explains Rettenberger. “Active fiber monitoring as an additional safety blanket is relatively new and gaining commercial traction. We expect this to be more widely deployed going forward.” “Such fibre monitoring solutions are cost-efficient, provide an additional safety layer and improve resiliency in

areas where having idle spare capacity is not possible or cost-prohibitive,” he concludes. VIAVI suggests there’s additional mileage in better managing the combination of technician skill set and keeping pace with persistent fibre network advancements. “Fibre is everywhere. More people are working on it with less experience, so having a knowledgeable and skilled crew matters, but you also need to support those who are new or simply less skilled,” suggests Rowan. “And having tools that are designed for ease of use, automation, and all users – not just experts – is key in the access side of the network.” This is especially the case in FTTH environments. EXFO is also an advocate of more automation, identifying one trend as being the use of remote, cloud-based network monitoring solutions. “These solutions that can provide end-to- end network performance visibility for live Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reporting and Business Intelligence (BI) dashboards will be in high demand,” predicts Gagnon. “As well, automated field testing tools and software that can give technicians insight quickly and easily to identify and solve issues will continue to be required to ensure reliability and maintain uptime.” And for its part CommScope recommends using hardened connectivity terminals as one of the best ways to boost optical network resilience. Gonzalez points out that traditional methods of placing and splicing fibre cables take time and can lead to risk of downtime. “We expect to see the increased adoption of hardened connectivity solutions improving optical resiliency, as well as pre-connectorised solutions,” he states. “Hardened connectivity has consolidated as the main technology used for outdoor distribution.” CUT-OFF POINTS As remarked by Rettenberger, there’s a whole litany of phenomena that can damage or sever fibre cable. For aerial deployment, it could be adverse weather, natural disasters, or traffic accidents felling poles. Buried cable can be at the mercy of earthquakes, later adjacent construction or civil works and, in some geographies, wild animals. What about LANs? “Here I would say ‘home/office improvement’, construction work and careless behaviour from users on site are the main reason for fibre breaks,” states Rettenberger. But in any event, not all of these causes of service outages lend themselves to ready autonomous restoration fix-its.

by simply switching the adapter,” says Gagnon. But there’s a caveat.

“On the other hand, having too many functions in the same platforms, like fibre inspection and power meters, can limit the multi-tasking efficiency for a team in the field and increase the bulkiness and price of simple equipment,” he observes. “So fit-to-purpose test equipment is usually preferred for simple tasks.“ In practice, fibre monitoring systems play a large and expanding role in promoting overall network resilience. “Fibre optic monitoring is perhaps the biggest component to ensuring overall network resilience – to include test and documentation at installation, followed by reliable monitoring for breaks, intrusions, and disruptions in general.” asserts Rowan, but there’s a caveat here too. “Network monitoring is only as good as the documentation you have,” cautions Rowan. “Knowing there is a break is not enough, you need to know where, why, and how. This requires a well- documented network.” ESCAPE ROUTES Creating redundancy is an obvious way to enhance optical network resilience. Some different topologies are evident here. As Stephan Rettenberger, ADVA’s SVP of Marketing and Investor Relations points out, for DCI purposes, operators typically use redundant point-to-point links, with two separate fibres in separate cables being buried in separate ducts and taking different routes between the locations, even entering and exiting the building on opposite sides. “On top, they have multiple failover mechanisms on the equipment level,” he says. For the MAN, a multi-fibre ring is the most common topology, enabling switching between fibres, and making two routes always available to get from source to destination. “If there’s a break on the clockwise route, traffic can be switched to the counter-clockwise route and still reach its destination,” observes Rettenberger. Meantime, long-distance networks are often built in a mesh. This means that there are even more than two

Étienne Gagnon SVP, Test andMeasurement Division, EXFO

Jose Luis Gonzalez FTTHNetwork Architect, EMEA, CommScope

Stephan Rettenberger SVP, Marketing and Investor Relations, ADVA


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In this article, Carlos Lee , EPIC’s Director General, talks to James Regan , CEO at EFFECT Photonics, a provider of highly integrated optical communications products based on its optical System-on-Chip (SoC) technology. EPIC CEO INTERVIEW JAMES REGAN, CEO, EFFECT PHOTONICS

EARLY CAREER In 1987, James started his career as a development engineer for Nortel Networks, the UK subsidiary of a Canadian multinational telecommunications and data networking equipment manufacturer. After a spell in engineering management, he was selected to help join Nortel’s newly created product line management team, which had been set up to develop business initiatives within the larger company. This was both an interesting and enjoyable experience as he was given the freedom to be creative, think laterally, and develop his entrepreneurial talents. His role was to find business opportunities for new technologies out of the research labs, such as optical cross connect switches and other optical components that he successfully sold to cable TV operators. Following his success starting, leading and building an EDFA business unit, in the late 90s, he was given the opportunity to go to Boston in the US to drive Nortel’s business development in North America. In 2001, looking for a new challenge he was recruited as Managing Director, Europe at Agility Communications, a

EFFECT PHOTONICS In 2011, he was introduced to Boudewijn Docter and Tim Koene, who in 2010, had set up EFFECT Photonics at the Technical University of Eindhoven to commercialise the technology they had worked on at the University. The technology in question was a tuneable laser that was based on a generic and comprehensive photonic integration approach. By growing different quaternary alloys of Indium Phosphide on a single wafer, all of the active and passive optical functions of an optical system could be created within a single chip. The chips could then be combined with simple packaging for high-volume, low-cost manufacture. James was excited by the possibilities of this technology and the team set to work looking at market opportunities and available sources of finance. They found commercial interest, brought financial expert Dennis Maas into the team, and were able to attract seed funding from the region to do early validation. They combined this with industrially funded projects they were able to obtain from interested customers whilst they began the search for substantial investment.

start-up developing tuneable lasers in indium phosphide. He successfully scaled up the business over the next few years and as the volumes went up and the prices went down, competitors that were not based on Indium Phosphide photonic integration were forced to drop out leaving just a couple of vendors. As a result, in 2005, Agility was successfully exited to JDSU, a US manufacturer of optical products and broadband communications. James stayed on for a year with responsibility for strategic marketing of telecom modules at JDSU. But in 2007, he left to set up his own consultancy, Isca Photonics Ltd., with the aim of using his experience to help photonics start-ups develop their business. For the next five years, he worked with several start-ups, mainly in the US, brought in business developer Robert Hughes and in collaboration with John Lincoln, he also established photonics networks in southwest of England. His aims were twofold: to bring together those who had been active in photonics before the crash in the early 2000’s and also to find potential partners to create a new business.


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COMPANY DEVELOPMENT In 2015, the company closed its Series-A funding. For James, this was a real landmark because at that time, funding for early-stage hardware was very hard to come by. The general view was that hardware would be obtained from Asia and the only concern for western companies was to concentrate on the software. Although in recent years, the pendulum has swung back in favour of sovereign control over the manufacture of key technologies, at that time, investors were looking for software apps where a product could be available in three months with minimal capital investment. Fortunately, there were still a few visionaries left who saw the value of hardware technology and being impressed with the viability of EFFECT Photonics’ business plan, were willing to invest in the company. The next stage was to find locations for specialised product development and manufacturing, which led the company to establish a facility in Torbay, in the south-west of England. As he explains, in 2000, there were around 6,000 people developing and manufacturing telecom lasers in southwest Devon, and because it’s such a pleasant location, after the telecom crash, most remained in the area. Since then, several global leaders in technology, like Lumentum, II–VI Photonics, Gooch & Housego, Spirent, Prior Queensgate, Nanusens, and Bay Photonics have become established in the Torbay area making it an important location in the UK for advanced electronics and photonics. In 2018, the company completed its series B and began to develop all the fundamental optical building blocks required to put a complete coherent optical transmission system on a single chip: the “Manta” chip. This work continued in parallel with its ongoing commercialisation of tuneable transceivers for 5G networks. In 2021, EFFECT Photonics closed its Series-C funding round raising US$43 million, and in March 2022, the company acquired the Coherent Optical Digital Signal Processing business from Viasat and added another US$20 million. With full ownership of the key optical, DSP and FEC functions, the company can now offer seamless integration, cost efficiency and security of supply with a full portfolio of building blocks, such as the tuneable laser and DSP, and/or complete solutions. As regards facilities, in addition to Eindhoven and Torbay, they have a small custom facility in Taiwan, another in Maynard, Massachusetts, and by the end of April 2022, a third facility will open in Cleveland, Ohio, which will bring the company’s headcount to around 250 across six sites in three continents.

James Regan, CEO EFFECT Photonics (left) and Carlos Lee, Director General EPIC.

FACTORS OF SUCCESS James puts EFFECT Photonics’ success down to the following factors: Eindhoven ecosystem: In the first few years, seed funding and other support from the regional ecosystem around the Technical University of Eindhoven were of crucial importance. Seed funder “BrightMove”, BOM (the Brabant development agency), Photon Delta, the national bodies RVO and Invest NL together with the EU have all been invaluable, alongside visionary individual investors who paved the way for larger institutional investors to follow. The company wouldn’t be here today without them. Fusion of technology and business development mindsets: The development of EFFECT Photonics has been due mainly to the successful marriage of two groups of people: a highly innovative group from the Technical University of Eindhoven and an industrially seasoned group from the southwest of England. Customer orientation: With the emphasis on commercialisation, it was agreed early on not to put all their resources into just working on technology. They would also need to talk to prospective customers to find out what problems they could solve with their technology and adapt products to the customers’ needs, rather than vice versa. Clearly defined commercial goals: Right from the start, they wanted to make a real company in line with what James had spent his whole career doing, i.e., taking technology out of the lab and using it to create business. Accordingly, rather than focusing on low-volume, high-priced products, their mission would be to make complex coherent technology ubiquitous by taking it into entirely new markets.

Investment: The focus on scaling, business and customers meant that investors could see that EFFECT Photonics was not just another company with a technology that didn’t know where to go. Instead, they saw a company with clear ideas on how to simplify a complex technology and produce high performance, low cost and scalable optical solutions to meet the projected soaring demand for high bandwidth connections. Continuing Investor confidence in the company has resulted in multiple funding rounds.

What’s your advice for the next generation of entrepreneurs?

“First, don’t try to do it on your own; you will need to have the right set of skills. For this reason, research has shown that it’s more effective to set up a start-up with two than it is with one, and it’s better with three than with two. But once you have more than four or five, you start to saturate, so aim for a small group of like-minded people. Second, by like-minded people, I mean those who are willing to roll their sleeves up and to commit and take risks. They also need to have the same ambitions as you because alignment of ambitions inside a team is crucial. In our case, the founders have been through hell together and we’ve all grown as people, so we have the good chemistry and we fit well together. Third, early-stage funding, which is the hardest to obtain, is fundamental for establishing the technology proof points. In our case, we were able to do this with EU and national project funding for the first few years. In fact, as Europe hasn’t got many early-stage hardware VCs, without such funding, it would have been extremely difficult to develop.”



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When we think of subsea fibre cables, we automatically think of ultra-high-speed telecommunications links stretching between continents. However, those same cables have another capability beyond transporting huge amounts of data, they can be used to sense a wide range of events, including but not exclusively, ones which might culminate in damage to the cable itself. To find out more about this intriguing and innovative use of fibre technology, Optical Connections editor Peter Dykes spoke with Daniel Danskin , commercial manager, DAS, at Nokia’s vertical company Alcatel Submarine Networks, and Szilard Zsigmond , senior director, High- Speed Electro-Optics subsystems, at Nokia.

F ibre sensing has its roots back in 1985 with the Norwegian company Optoplan, which began developing the technology for oil and gas installations. Following a series of buyouts, it was acquired by Nokia as part of the Alcatel-Lucent purchase in 2016. Now called Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), the company recently released its Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) technology, for use in fibre optic submarine telecoms cables, which can detect a variety of subsea events including nearby bottom trawlers, ships dropping anchors, cable movements and various seismic events. Daniel Danskin, who works specifically on stand-alone DAS systems says, “Essentially, DAS turns the fibre into a microphone every metre using current technology which has a range of 150 kilometres, that’s 150,000 microphones under the sea. With future technology, we’ll be able to reach 4,000 kilometres or more. What we’re looking at now is what can we do with those microphones, and they are essentially microphones. We can

split out and Fourier transforms are used to get the frequency spread, essentially creating a microphone. Individual points on the fibre can then be looked at using time-domain reflectometry. As Danskin says, the OptoDAS Interrogator unit is essentially a phase-based time domain reflectometer. He adds, “ASN do that in a very different way to most other companies. There are four or five companies doing this, but most companies send a pulse out, wait for it to travel the full length of the fibre and repeat the process. The problem with that is there’s not much light in the fibre. These pulses are 10 nanoseconds long and in order to travel longer distances, say up to 50 kilometres, you need to increase the amount of light. You can’t increase it in the pulse because you have to make it bigger and that changes the way you measure and means you can only measure big events. It also means you don’t get a lot of granularity in the data. With ASN’s coherent pulse, we send a frequency sweep and so we get tens of thousands of times more light into the fibre than

pick up frequencies from DC - almost zero hertz, right up to around 600 hertz, so you might wonder that if you can listen to a line of microphones that span from, say, across the English Channel, or from Trondheim to the UK, (if you measure for both sides), what can you hear? But we can do a lot more than just ‘what can you hear’.” HOW IT WORKS ASN’s main sensing product for fibre telecoms cables is it’s 3U, rack-mounted, OptoDAS Interrogator unit, which is also available as a portable field rack. To operate, it requires a power connection, a single fibre connection, an Ethernet connection and a computer to record the data. Danskin explained that whenever a fibre cable is put under strain, the state of polarisation of the light traveling through it, changes. When pulses of light are sent into the fibre, the polarisation change of the returned scattered light can be used to indicate the dynamic of strain in the fibre. If this is done thousands of times a second and integrated over the whole of the fibre, a phase pattern can be built up for the whole cable. The phase is then


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