Optical Connections Industry Focus 2021


THE YEAR AHEAD: PART TWO Convergence, Covid and Capacity Optical Connections asked three leading players in the fibre optic industry for their thoughts on the coming year. Responses included greater IP/optical convergence, post-Covid supply chain strategies, infrastructure expansion and yet more bandwidth. If they’re right, it looks like 2022 could be the year fibre optic communications moves up several gears.

Tim Doiron, senior director Solutions Marketing, Infinera “As we begin to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, 2022 may be a year of three As – availability, accessibility and acceleration. Availability in this instance refers to availability of global supply - and our industry’s ability to meet network service provider demands. In the wake of the pandemic, we have seen supply shortages of all types from paper towels to semiconductors and automobiles. In response, networking and optical equipment vendors are rethinking their global supply chains and how they design, manufacture, and deliver optical transmission products to network operators. How vertically integrated are their solutions and how much of it is directly under in-house manufacturing? Are there multiple suppliers available for commodity components? Where should I locate my global distribution centres to maximise complete shipments and minimise transit delays? This ongoing, multi-year exercise should benefit network operators by driving increased resiliency and product availability into the supply chain ecosystem.

Jürgen Hatheier, chief technology officer, EMEA & APAC, Ciena “When we take a look back at the past year, the networking industry has faced tremendous pressure – both in terms of capacity and when it comes to delivering ultra-low latency. The enterprise network was once the hub of activity, whereas now the average home has more in common with a small business, placing greater strain on residential networks. However, this has not come at a reduction in the demand from enterprises – who at the same time stepped up their digital transformation efforts. This past year service providers have had to quickly tackle the challenges and there is no doubt that in years to come, this demand will not go away anytime soon. In fact, with more high-bandwidth services and applications coming to market, and a hybrid workforce set to stay for many businesses – this is something that is only going to grow. This is driving the need for network evolution, as residential, enterprise and mobile networks start to blur, service providers are taking steps to simplify their network architectures, reduce costs and still meet the growing customer expectations for connectivity.

As a result, I predict that what we are going to see the next year and beyond is greater focus on IP/optical network convergence. Convergence at its most basic level is the streamlining and simplification of networking layers that include optical (Layer 0) up to an including IP (Layer 3). In a converged architecture it is possible for one network element to do the work of what would have taken two or three network elements in a legacy architecture. IP/Optical convergence is a critical step on the journey to a network as a platform. In fact, in a recent survey we commissioned with Heavy Reading, 87% of service providers view IP and optical convergence as “important” for their next-generation networks, and 29% view convergence as “critical”. In this new world, the network will be more programmable and automated than ever before, and IP/optical convergence is a critical way to deliver this. In order to support our always-on digital world, and to help streamline and automate operations network evolution can no longer be put on hold and we are going to see IP/optical convergence become a major talking point.”




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