Winter 2018 Optical Connections Magazine



ECOC 2018 exhibition was undoubtedly the best one to date, with both attendee and exhibitor numbers hitting record highs. Many exhibitors also reported massive interest in their products and said they expected an uptick in sales following the show. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the show however, was that it reflected how the growing demand for fibre optic communications is driving innovation right across the industry. Peter Dykes picks out a few of the many highlights of the show.

FIBRE TESTING GOES AUTOMATIC As the 5G era approaches, the pressure is on to reduce the time spent training technicians as well as the time it takes to test new rollouts. On display at ECOC 2018 was Exfo’s response to these issues in the form of its automated, cloud-based TestFlow solution. When used in conjunction with the company’s test equipment, it is possible to define processes in advance so that the field technician can carry them out on site with the minimum of training. The system also backhauls the data from each stage of the testing back to the cloud to confirm the process has been carried out correctly. Exfo estimates that up to 50% of a field test engineer’s time is taken up with admin and reporting, time which TestFlow reduces to a matter of seconds. In addition, the data is also available centrally for real- time analysis, which also saves time on processing the mass of data that traditional methods demand. SIMPLE SPLICERS It’s not just field test equipment that has been made simpler to use, most of the many splicers on display at ECOC 2018 were smaller than their predecessors with additional features which makes them much simpler to operate. Fujikura’s 41S single fibre fusion splicer is a prime example. The 41S has the unique capability

to estimate splice loss with greater accuracy than previous Fujikura cladding alignment type fusion splicers by using a new core loss estimation function. The unit, also uniquely, uses Bluetooth technology to connect to the CT50 fibre cleaver and enables a range of features that Fujikura says will improve the overall installation time, cost and efficiency for operators. DEALING WITH THE DATA DELUGE The expected deluge of data that will created by 5G is also having an impact on the design of optical transceivers, of which there were many being in evidence at the show. Speaking to the manufacturers, it became clear that the move to 100G and subsequently to 400G along with the consequential impact on datacentres is driving manufacturers to look for ways of reducing transceiver footprints while at the same time reducing the power requirements. This has led to a variety of designs and form factors, however COBO (Consortium for On- Board Optics) is developing a future- proof transceiver design with a very small footprint (see page 20). Apart from the obvious benefits of COBO’s work for transceiver manufacturers, it will also have ramifications for the for the rest and measurement sector who are currently trying to keep up with the myriad of new

form factors coming to the market.

MARKET FOCUS Market Focus attendees witnessed a wide range of discussions across the three days, from Inphi’s take on how the use of DSP-based 28Gbaud and 56Gbaud PAM4 electronics with linear amplifiers and drivers is enabling cohesive and software intelligent platform solutions, to Facebook’s insight into open packet optical architectures for next-generation data centres. Not surprisingly, 5G was high on the agenda, with Supriyo Dey, senior director product line management at Source Photonics, stressing the need for a robust mobile network architecture to cope with the immense potential of the technology. Dey said, “While an exciting era of unprecedented opportunity is almost here in the shape of 5G, it comes with a huge set of challenges for the whole industry. The advent of this technology is undeniably huge, but there’s a real challenge for those who are hungry to develop its capabilities to match their expectations in terms of performance.” Telefonica also hosted a session with ECOC veterans Infinera, Juniper and NeoPhotonics also speaking. Speakers also took to the stage to define three segments of the optical components market, a current area of focus for Ovum. Market data for telecom, datacom and


| ISSUE 15 | Q4 2018

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