Autumn 2020 - Optical Connections Magazine

Bringing the World the Latest in Optical Communications News

ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020

Developments in connector tech | p8 CONNECTIVITY

THE VIEW FROM INDIGO Designing optical networks | p12

UPGRADING HFC NETWORKS The journey towards 10G | p16

ECOC 2020 PREVIEW Big bash in Brussels | p28



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CHANGE DRIVES INNOVATION Welcome to the Autumn issue of Optical Connections. 2020 has certainly been a year of massive uncertainty and change, and the fibre optic communications industry has not escaped. Trade expo’s, the industry’s chance to meet together, network and do business face to face, have either been postponed or moved online. Indeed, ECOC 2020 is no exception, having been postponed until 7th – 9th December, albeit with extensive safety measures implemented at the venue by the Brussels Expo management team (see page 29). Change has come to the wider industry too, in the form of an exponential growth in demand for broadband capacity, which in turn is driving innovation and development in several areas of the fibre optic communications industry. In this issue, we examine some of the technologies that are taking the industry forward. Starting from first principles, we look at how optical networks are designed and planned with Indigo’s project director Nick Naughton . Appropriate connectivity is also vital but basic requirement and Peter Dykes takes a look at what connectors are currently in use and the challenges developments in cable technology are presenting to connector vendors. Of course, once optical networks are up and running, they need to be kept that way and MicroCare’s SVP Jay Tourigny offers some invaluable advice on maintaining reliability. Not all networks are built from scratch however, and often evolve from older technologies. A prime example is hybrid cable/fibre (HFC) networks and in a thought-provoking feature, Emmanuel Vella , VP Sales N&C Europe at CommScope discusses how HFC network migration can be managed on the road to 10G. The capacity demand, made more ever more pressing with the onset of 5G and IoT, is also driving operators to look for new efficiencies in their networks by re- architecting network infrastructure. Perhaps the hottest topic in terms of network efficiency is network disaggregation, a topic explored by veteran telecoms journalist John Williamson . Greater efficiency is also required for transmission between cloud data centres and the edge to better serve end users, and is driving new developments in photonics. Antony Savvas looks at innovations in laser design for next generation optical networks. In this issue, we also preview ECOC 2020 Conference and Expo, including the ever-popular Market Focus and the inaugural ECOC Exhibition Industry Awards, implemented to celebrate 25 years of ECOC. There are also the usual features including Industry and Product News as well as a look at some of the upcoming virtual expo’s means there’s plenty to read during lockdown.


Industry News


Connectivity Peter Dykes

10 Tektronix

Promo Feature

12 The View From Indigo Peter Dykes 16 Migrating HFC Networks Emmanuel Vella 18 Disaggregated Networks John Williamson 22 Cleaning Fibre Splices Jay Tourigny 24 Redesigning Lasers Antony Savvas 28 ECOC Preview 30 ECOC Market Focus 31 ECOC Awards Industry Awards 34 Event Focus 36 Product Focus

Peter Dykes Contributing Editor




Optical Connections is published by NEXUS MEDIA EVENTS LTD Suite 3, Building 30, Churchill Square, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4YU t: +44 (0) 1732 752 125 f: +44 (0) 1732 752 130


ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020


800G Transceiver market worth US$2.5bn by 2029

significant use of 200G servers. CIR also sees some pioneer efforts to build the first few public network 800G links using technology that is somewhat proprietary to the equipment makers. According to Lawrence Gasman, author of this new study and president of CIR, “800G represents a new era in optical networking speeds and latencies to accommodate the substantial uptick in video conferencing, streaming and digital entertainment as well new applications including

A new report from analysts Communications Industry Researchers (CIR), finds that the market opportunity for 800G transceivers and above will reach US$245 million in revenues by 2025 rising to to US$2.5 billion by 2029. Driven initially by video, CIR expects the traffic in data centres will be further driven by 5G and IoT applications requiring data centre infrastructure to be rebuilt using 800G interfaces. CIR sees 800G being used for interbuilding connectivity but will

will never be a large one, because transceivers will be marketed as part of larger systems packages. They will be proprietary so that the equipment companies can squeeze as many features as possible out of their boxes in order impress the large telcos, which is not an easy thing to do. In the context of public networks, the companies that matter in terms of 800G trials are Ciena, Huawei, and Infinera, but given political realities Huawei’s market will largely limited to China and countries in China’s sphere of influence.

virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence services.” CIR says that commercial 800G modules will be available in the next couple of years. This means that the 800G “revolution” is an event we can expect to happen soon. Previous generations of modules have been 10x efforts – 10G to 100 G. 800G can be implemented quite quickly because it can be achieved in effect be gluing 400G modules together. It believes that the 800G public network market

become a necessity for data centres that make

Ciena breaks 800G distance record

in Canada, connecting the two largest cities in the country across approximately 700km, however, the link was successfully extended by another 270km to Quebec City. TELUS is one of the early 800G technology adopters who is in the process of augmenting their network with Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme (WL5e). TELUS supports 15.3 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television,

infrastructure development and operations at TELUS

Ciena has broken the record for the longest 800G transmission, according to a report on the company’s website. Helen Xenos, Ciena’s senior director, portfolio marketing, writing on the company website, said the company turned up an 800G wavelength from Toronto to Quebec City across a ‘world record- breaking’ 970km distance, 20km further than Infinera’s recent test in March 2020. The test was carried out on Telus’ network between Toronto to Montreal, the highest bandwidth corridor

entertainment, video and security.

This fully flexible, intelligent photonic infrastructure allows for the simple addition of WL5e wavelengths and with that, access to significant cost, footprint, and power benefits. TELUS will be standardising WaveLogic 5 Extreme for deployment in the near future. Part of the standardization activities include testing the full capabilities of the product to plan end user service offerings.

“TELUS prides itself on having one of the world’s fastest networks and using industry-leading technology to deliver the best experience for our customers across Canada. Our collaboration with Ciena on breaking transmission records is an exciting innovation that speaks to both teams track records of success,” said Ken Nowakowski, director planning and engineering, transport and ip


| ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020


UK altnets back common wholesale platform

has been estimated that there will be 11 million premises accessed via independent networks by 2025. The number of premises provided with full-fibre coverage is increasing rapidly with independent networks increasing their deployment by 50% last year to 1.2 million. However, with just over 10% of all UK premises covered with full fibre there is a long way to go, although Virgin Media’s cable network makes a significant contribution to the Government’s 2025 target of “gigabit-capable broadband” to all homes.

Nearly nine out of ten (88.7%) of the UK’s challenger broadband network providers support the creation of a common platform through which they could provide wholesale services to third- party content providers, according to a new survey. The creation of a common wholesale platform is an important step forward in enabling independent operators to attract service providers to their networks by aggregating the large volume of customers they could potentially reach. By cross referencing against the Spring INCA / Point Topic survey, it

out full fibre infrastructure to rural and hard to reach areas of the UK, and the creation of a common wholesale platform would be a welcome reinforcement to those efforts. A dual strategy approach, employing both wholesale and direct sales to consumers, would enable infrastructure providers to cover more ground more quickly and, crucially, give consumers more choice. Whether through supplying customers directly or by leasing our infrastructure to other suppliers, our priority is ensuring consumers have access to the best value full fibre service for their needs.”

“For some time, it has been presumed that challenger independent providers do not have the scale to attract major brands like TalkTalk and Sky. However, that is changing rapidly and our research shows that the operators are keen to work together on a wholesale platform that can bridge the gap in the market,” said INCA CEO Malcolm Corbett. Henry West, Commercial Director, Truespeed, which provides full fibre broadband in the South West of England says, “Smaller independent providers, like Truespeed, are already working full pelt to roll

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ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020


KPN to test sustainable fibre

cable and tube are also thinner, says KPN, more of it fits on a reel and as a result, the number of wooden reels decreases by 70%. This means that about six full freight transports fewer will be needed to connect the projected 11,000 connections in the test. KPN calculates the initiative is comparable to saving 760 plastic carrier bags per connection.

KPN says it will start a trial to build a fibre optic network made of 90% recycled plastic. The company says only 10% of new plastic will be needed to manufacture the tube in which the fibre optic cable fits. The construction is made durable by using a 4.5 mm cable in a 10 mm tube instead of the conventional 6 mm cable in a 14 mm tube. This reduces the volume of plastics used by about 50%. Because the

development is another contribution to this.”

who is responsible for the fibre network said, “KPN has been committed to sustainability for years and together with partners we are exploring how we can build fibre more quickly, more sustainably and with less inconvenience. Our ambition is not only to provide as many people with super-fast internet as possible, we also want to do so in a sustainable way. That’s what our customers want. This new

This initiative has been developed and is being tested in collaboration with KPN partners Allinq, Van Gelder Telecom, Prysmian Group and VolkerWessels Telecom. The trial will take place in Buitenpost (Friesland) and Nijmegen Dukenburg. If the result is positive, the cable will be released for more of KPN’s fibre construction projects.

KPN’s Joost Steltenpool,

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| ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020


CommScope discusses how critical tools can support AltNets plan and develop networks more efficiently, to deliver faster time-to-market CommScope Partners with AltNets to accelerate FTTx Planning

A s the world’s fifth-largest economy, Britain ranks 35th out of the 37 OECD countries for the proportion of fibre in its total fixed broadband infrastructure. The nation’s key incumbent providers have worked closely with the government to try and close the gap. Still, these investments may not be enough to make the required impact as Britain’s high number of low-density, rural communities makes running fibre to the premise extremely time-consuming and expensive. Not only the financial aspect alone did hold back the country’s fibre infrastructure, but also the support for innovation was not enough. Recently, this has started to change, as a growing number of independent alternative networks (AltNets) step up to address the problem. With some creative support from industry partners like CommScope, the independent network providers are helping the UK catch up with the rest of Europe. THE RISE OF THE ALTNET 2019 saw tremendous growth, not only in the number of AltNet projects, but in the number of fibre-connected homes across Britain, a trend that’s expected to continue over the next five years. According the Independent Network Cooperatives Association (INCA) 2.4 million additional premises will be passed by the end of 2020 and 15.7 million

premises by the end of 2025. Despite delivering impressive results, AltNets face considerable headwinds. New topologies, the impact of 5G and the need for increased capacity create more decisions to be considered during network planning, increasing the time and cost of deploying new services. To help AltNets address these challenges, CommScope developed the FTTH ePlanner. The ePlanner is a UK-specific planning tool that guides network designers through the various steps and decisions in the network planning process. The ePlanner helps engineers quickly identify the best network design topology for any project. Engineers provide input regarding demography type and density, take-up rate business case and any infrastructure constraints. The tool then walks the engineer through the various network design aspects that need to be considered and explains the available options and the pros and cons of each. At the end of the process, the ePlanner provides the recommended topology, optimized cluster size, physical deployment options, and actives utilization for the best-case scenario. The user is also able to generate a detailed bill of materials BOM to be used in estimation.

The completely virtual ePlanner also considers key regulatory and standards- based requirements that may affect the design. The goal is to help understaffed AltNets reduce the amount of time and cost involved in developing and deploying their fibre networks. NETWORK PLANNING MOVES CENTRE STAGE As the fibre roll-out across Britain continues, expect planning tools like the ePlanner to become increasingly important. Evolving business models, like open access networks, emphasize the need to reduce time-to-market and development cost. In an open access approach multiple service providers lease wholesale services from the network infrastructure owner. The faster the network can turn up services, the better for everyone. Open access networks are just one of many business use-cases for quality network planning tools. While there is still a long way to go before the UK reaches its goal of full fibre coverage, there is cause for optimism. The recent strides made by AltNets, coupled with the strength of the incumbents, appear to be moving the country in the right direction.


ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020



Optical connectors come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, each for a specific application. Some are more popular than others for a variety of reasons, among them size, performance and capabilities, but more variations will be required with the onset of 5G and IoT, writes Optical Connections editor Peter Dykes .

P robably the most application, for using either, according to Stephen Chivers, residential project director, at UK-based broadband connectivity provider Glide. He says, “A variety of optical fibre connectors are available, but SC and LC connectors are the most common types of commonly form factors in use today are the SC and the LC connectors, and there are good reasons, depending on the connectors on the market. Due to the equipment selection made by operators which often stipulate dimensions and methods of coupling, there is a wide variety of connectors. History also plays a part as many were made for different uses, for example in data centre applications, small LC and multi-fibre connectors have replaced larger, older style SC connectors, allowing more fibre ports per unit of rack space. Further, outside plant applications may require connectors be located underground, or on outdoor walls or utility poles”.

WHICH FORM FACTOR? Cost is also a significant factor,

In a written response to questions, connectivity specialist Senko told Optical Connections, “In addition to its compact size, One of the key features that became very popular with the LC was to couple two of them side-by-side utilising a clip or a unibody design. This dual-fibre or also known as duplex style connector, is widespread through various datacom application. Nevertheless, as we continue to move towards a more digitised world there is a rising demand in 400G+ networks for even more density where the LC footprint just isn’t small enough. This is where the next generation duplex connectors, CS® and the SN® connectors, are becoming very well accepted by the users. Other than the size, the ability to break-out at the transceiver is also a key feature of the CS® and SN® as it is in line with the adoption of leaf- and-spine architectures in modern data centres. Other than Datacom, these two connectors are quickly also becoming the new preferred interconnect form factor for 5G wireless applications, where constrain of premium space is one of the challenges for densification. Of course, we

particularly as fibre densification means an almost exponential rise in the number of connectors required for specific applications. This is particularly true in places such as datacentres and points of aggregation in fibre optic networks. Brian Leonard, European product manager, optical connectivity, Fujikura Europe says, “There are pro’s and con’s about most connector types, but one of the big deciders is manufacturing costs. For example, FC connectors are metal- milled, which makes them very resilient, but when it comes to manufacturing them in high volumes, they’re very expensive. That said, they’re very versatile and come with a range of keyway sizes which are generally application specific.” He adds, “SC’s on the other hand, are good for data centres and FTTx, indeed, they are the preferred connector in access networks. Both FC and SC connectors are widely distributed but some operators, from a cost perspective, prefer to use the same form factors they have used for many years, such as SC-APC.”


| ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020


speck of debris will have a detrimental effect on the signal light path. Similarly, using small diameter cores in dense environments makes alignment ever more difficult. US Conec has developed what it calls “free space” connectors in which the fibre cores do not actually touch in the traditional way and which address both of these issues. Hughes says, “We’re looking at a new kind of optical connector technology that’s lens-based. We do an expanded beam connector interface that allows us to hook up lots of fibres quickly, does not need cleaning and does not need a highly skilled technician to install it.” He explained that by placing a lens in front of each fibre end, the diameter of light beam can be expanded by a factor of four, thereby reducing the effective size of a speck of debris in relation to the beam. Hughes says, “Almost all the connectors we use today are physical contact connectors, which literally bring the fibres together, align them precisely and let them touch, kind of like a temporary splice. If there’s a separation between the cores, we get reflections and attenuation and that’s bad news. So, if the connection is designed to operate in free space, by definition we aren’t bringing them together to touch anymore, which makes us tolerant in the Z axis alignment, which is a big help when it comes to any debris that might be in the mechanical structure. So we typically use collimated light that’s not sensitive to Z axis alignment. The result is we get very forgiving connector technology.” READY FOR 5G? No discussion of connectors would be complete without mentioning 5G and IoT, given that without fibre, they could not be implemented. However, while some existing connector formats will be applicable a degree of standardisation will inevitably be required. The main bodies include IEC, TIA and IEEE. There are also MSA groups for QSFF-DD, OSPF, and SFP-DD technologies and there are discussions on new optical interface within OIF and other consortiums as

well, but as Leonard observes, “In terms of standards, most connectors are either ISO or Telcordia, but there are others, and there are working groups in various countries that are working standards up to ISO. The fact is, standards are constantly evolving and manufacturers often release proprietary solutions which eventually get updated to conform with standards.” So, is the connector industry ready for the future? Senko says, “We are ready in terms of Passive Fibre Optic connectivity solutions. 5G infrastructure is all about fibre. There are challenges such as the cost of network infrastructure deployment and physical spaces to deploy these infrastructures. We believe fibre optic components, even though it is a small portion of entire network, can help operators to address these challenges. The majority of connector form factors from FTTH and data centre markets are already being utilised for 5G infrastructure. At the same time, there are new technologies actively being developed to support 5G and IoT rollout.” Chivers adds, “With 5G and the increase of IoT these are placing challenging new technical demands on the connectivity components that enable these networked devices. The main challenges for connectors in IoT are the ever- increasing data-rate demands and diverse component densities of end devices from consumer electronics to smart meters and manufacturing control

cannot forget about the MPO connector. The multi-fibre push-on connector really allows for the maximisation of fibre density in an optical connector. It is recently gaining more momentum, as manufacturing process control and precision moulding technology continue to improve thus offering improved optical performance yet at an economical point.”


One company that has been actively developing the MPO connector format is US Conec, which has a new version of the MPO with a row of 16 fibres where historically a row of 12 or 8 channels were used. Mike Hughes, VP of Product Development at US Conec says, “One of the reasons we’ve got so many MPO formats is the transceiver bandwidth needing additional lanes. For example, the SR8 that we’re doing for 400G short-reach applications, we needed eight transmit and receive lanes via one MPO connector, so to achieve that, we went to a 16-wide connector. The other thing that’s driving new formats is density. So, we see that like in the duplex world, whereas for years we would have seen the LC format used, now we’ve taken another swing at reducing duplex connectivity with a new format called the MDC, which takes us down to about a third the size of the LC format.” Indeed, density is a driver for a number of connector-related technologies, not the least of which is cabling. Ribbon and high-density cables do present certain challenges, although as Senko points out, there are good challenges, that have served as a catalyst to some of the innovative connector designs SENKO has developed, because connector, fibre, and cable technologies have to evolve together. It adds, “It’s important to be asking the right questions and we believe that working in synergy with our suppliers and customers, we can always find new, unexplored solutions.” Leonard agrees that the challenges aren’t great, but some do exist. He says, “Micro-cables down to 8 microns require specially-made ferrules, which is a bit problematic, but it’s relatively easy to adapt existing connectors to the smaller sizes. We’ve been using MPO, MPT and MPX. Ribbon cables don’t really present a problem as we’ve already got them covered with existing products. Multicore, high-density cables are more of a challenge however, insofar as it’s difficult to align the cores.” Alignment, along with cleanliness, are also issues going forward, as connector density increases and a lot of applications in the industry are looking for ways to develop optical connectors that behave more like their electrical counterparts which are simply plugged in and forgotten about. Cleanliness is a problem because as fibre cores get ever smaller, even the tiniest

equipment. IoT devices are being designed for considerably higher operating frequencies than are

commonly used today and these will all require higher data rates at higher speeds and new connector designs. In addition, higher board-level component densities that enable advanced IoT devices also significantly limit both the space allotted for connectors and the minimum co-location distances between components, which is a critical design element for reducing the risk of interference”.

Stephen Chivers Residential Project Director, Glide

Mike Hughes VP Product Development, US Conec

Brian Leonard European Product Manager, Fujikura Europe


ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020


TSO820 module Source: Tektronix

New optical transceiver test platform reduces test time and boasts repeatability, addressing test challenges for optical manufactures striving to meet demand for increased bandwidth and network capacity. Tektronix Introduces the 8 Series Sampling Oscilloscope Platform with Support for 56GBd and 28GBd Applications

T ektronix has recently up to 4 channels per mainframe and the highest measurement accuracy for PAM4 optical signals on multiple inputs simultaneously. The 8 Series consists of the TSO820 Sampling Oscilloscope Mainframe, optical sampling modules, and TSOVu, a new software platform that runs independent of the mainframe on host PC for both live and offline processing of acquired data. Tektronix also introduces the TCR801, an external optical clock recovery module which covers dual band ranges around both 26GBd and 53GBd. These instruments and software provide a platform solution for fast acquisition and analysis. announced the new 8 Series sampling platform, a disaggregated modular instrument series boasting parallel acquisition, with “Our customers are facing new daily challenges in having to support new emerging technologies,” says Dean Miles, Tektronix Technical Marketing Manager. “Increased demand for bandwidth and network capacity is forcing the industry to adopt to direct

users can quickly add new analysis capabilities and reconfigure test systems to support upcoming standards and changes in workflow. Offline and remote modes of operation extend the analysis and visualization capability of the TSO820 beyond the oscilloscope to a user computing environment, facilitating seamless transition from design phase to debug, characterization and manufacturing test. Save time, space, and money with modular design. Optimize test setups with the

detect transceivers with higher baud rates, PAM4 modulation and multiple lanes .These changes have resulted in new customer pain points such as increase in test time, complexity and cost as well challenges with regards to more complex tuning, parallel testing with less margins and higher yield loss .The introduction of the new Tektronix 8 Series helps solve these customer critical problems by delivering a scalable platform that reduces test times, while also providing fast, accurate and repeatable test results,” Miles confirmed. The 8 Series’ mainframe is a configurable, compact instrument with the

smallest modular form factor in the market, at 3U high. Built to maximize the utilization of the rack space, this instrument is ideal for optical manufacturing applications, where

TSO820 400G optical standards Source: Tektronix


| ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020


mainframe is based on an IEEE 802.3TM Ethernet network, such as 100BASE-T or 1000BASE-T. TSOVu’s Programmatic Interface (PI) commands can be used in the automation environments to control instrument functionality and analysis reporting. Use TSOVu with the TSO820 Sampling Oscilloscope Mainfarme to acquire multiple channels simultaneously and analyze remotely over Ethernet or Wi-fi. Using the flexible plug-in architecture in TSOVu, measurement plug-ins that can interface with TSOVu will display directly in the Add Measurement

8 Series’ compact form factor and user- swappable modules to quickly adapt to changes in workflow and accommodate next generation technologies. The smaller form factor of 8 Series instruments, driven by higher density devices, significantly reduces overall production floor space. The TSO820 Sampling Oscilloscope Mainframe also features up to 8 times faster pattern acquisition as compared to the previous generation, increasing test throughput. • 3U High, half-rack wide • Scalable channel count • Up to 4 optical channels per system NEW TCR801 OPTICAL CLOCK RECOVERY The TCR801 Optical Clock Recovery instrument works with new and existing test equipment, including the TSO820 and DSA8300. This single mode, external instrument has a FC/PC optical connection for PAM4 and NRZ and utilizes external optical splitters. The 8 Series Optical Clock Recovery is a fast, flexible and reliable instrument for assisting in the validation of current and future optical designs. With all the applicable standard rates in the 26 and 53 GBd data rate ranges – no options required – the TCR801 Optical Clock Recovery is a crucial component for any bench or rack aimed at verifying the latest high-speed optical standards. Featuring quick lock capabilities and a sensitive front end for low power signals, this instrument simplifies the challenges associated with today’s optical testing. The TCR801 Optical Clock Recovery compliance test for industry standards: 25G, 50G, 100G, 200G, 400G IEEE 802.3 standards such as 400GBASE- FR8, 400GBASE-DR4, and similar optical direct detect PAM4 standards. It also supports high speed NRZ standards such as 100 Gb Ethernet (100GBASE- LR4 or similar), which operates at the rate of 25.78125 Gb/s. Standards that use the Golden PLL for the compliance test rely on the TCR801 to recover the clock as per the IEEE 802.3 or similarly required loop bandwidth and roll-off.

The communication standards specify the testing carried out using a recovered clock derived from the data signal. Typically, Phase Lock Loop requirements are defined in terms of –3 dB bandwidth of the recovery loop, the rate of roll-off of the frequency response, and the degree of response peaking allowable. The TCR801 Optical Clock Recovery instrument has an advanced architecture supporting two ranges of input symbol rates, around >26 GBd and around >53 GBd, with loop bandwidths in the required range for both PAM2/NRZ and PAM4 signals. The recovered clock is in the range of 13+ GHz.

TSO820 Enhanced Analysis with TSOVu Source: Tektronix

NEW TSOVU SOFTWARE The 8 Series Sampling Oscilloscope features a brand-new sampling oscilloscope software architecture called TSOVu. This new software runs on a user’s external Windows 10 PC and features an intuitive user interface and analysis engine for increased measurement throughput and limits oscilloscope downtime. The communication between the PC running TSOVu and the TSO820

window. This includes Tektronix’ standard Pulse Measurement and PAM4 Optical Measurement plug-ins and enables quick development of custom measurement libraries that are fully integrated in TSOVu to be called from the user interface or through PI commands. The TSOVu software platform enables an external computing environment with a comprehensive programmatic interface boosting automation. This software solution also offers a new measurement plug-in architecture, enabling quick iterations of existing measurements as well as future customer defined measurements. TSOVu is an advanced software platform that runs independent of the oscilloscope mainframe for both live and post-processing of acquired data. TSOVu offers efficient analysis of optical signals and includes support for eye diagrams as well as complex measurements like TDECQ. • Programmatic Interface commands available for automation • Parallel channel acquisition • Intuitive and easy to use

With ECOC 2020 now being postponed until December, Tektronix is excited in announcing its Optical Technology and Innovation week ( 28/09 -02/10) and will be showcasing a number of new technology solutions , live webinars , key note speakers and hosting VIP customer

meetings with our leading application technologists . Topics covered will include 400G PAM4 Characterization & Debug:, Simplifying 400G compliance testing and 400ZR+/800ZR DWDM support . To receive more details please CLICK HERE


ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020



The best-laid plans tend to be the most effective, particularly when it comes to networks. With fibre replacing copper, incumbents and altnets rolling out FTTP and support for 5G and IoT, network design and planning has never been more important. To find out what goes into effective fibre network design and planning, Optical Connections editor Peter Dykes sat down with Nick Naughton , 4site UK projects Director, part of the Indigo Telecom Group.

importance. We utilise things like ultra- lightweight fibres and bundled microduct means you can get thousands instead of hundreds of fibres into the trench. The plastics suppliers are all moving towards supplying that need and they have a lot of different types of ducts and compact fibre enclosures available already.

How do you design and plan a fibre optic transport or access network and at what point does

Infrastructure Access] and that opens up the duct and pole access to a lot of the Altnet fibre operators, some of which will build from scratch. We plan, design and build from scratch using new trenching where we’re permitted. It’s really a combination of PIA and new trenching that makes these rollouts possible. Once the fibre architecture has been confirmed, we get our materials and specifications and make sure we use the best material suppliers. Following this, we look at our protocols to see exactly what we put into the ground. It’s also vital to ensure the network is futureproofed for the next generation of capabilities that come into the fibre networks. For example, currently, we roll out a lot of GPON, but that’s moving up to 10 gig capability i.e. XGS-PON, so you want to make sure that the infrastructure is going to support both the migration from one to the other without having to invest new capital to support future networks. At present, capacity in the ground or in the air is of the utmost


Indigo get involved?

On projects where we design from scratch, we start with a feasibility study. Upon completion


we present this as a business case, offering a range of options like what size of footprint does the customer want to cover and how far do they want to extend the reach of the fibre network. In Ireland, we are working on the SIRO project and the newer NBI project [National Broadband Ireland], where 4site, as part of the Indigo Group, is currently surveying & designing fibre networks across the country. Then you look at what exactly is the driver? If it’s a government initiative, as we’re seeing in Ireland, then we use a different range of planning criteria. Once completed, we examine the existing infrastructure. In the UK we have Openreach’s PIA [Physical

Do you specify to a customer which suppliers they should use?


This is customer dependent. We work with very knowledgeable clients who know exactly what


they want to build. They’ve done all of the homework, double checked everything, they know the architecture they are looking for and their target market. In that case, we go straight to survey and design. Sometimes, however, we add our expertise by providing extra support or even consultancy to the customer by scoping design and materials. It really depends on the clients’ requirements.


| ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020

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For the access layers, the requirement is to pack as much as you can into a compact space. There will be huge fibre requirements in urban metropolitan areas in general, and that’s just for the 5G access parts. When you start putting in other layers, like smart city applications, smart grids, autonomous vehicles and whatever the killer app will be for 5G, fibre is needed to support the technology.

Does replacing an existing copper network present any particular planning challenges? Obviously, the build and the initial rollout cost is massive, but where possible we try to use the existing

headquarters in Wales. There we identify the required environments, production development, tests, training, redundant mechanisms, and disaster recovery. There is a huge amount of expertise in-house.

network. You can use point to multipoint, fibre topologies and fibre protocols to support that on the transport end, so there’s not much change there, you just need to make sure you futureproof that as well, so that you can replace your fibre every 25 years or indeed upgrade with higher counts. And again, that’s where the whole bundled microduct technology comes in. But certainly, for the access layers, the requirement is to pack as much as you can into a compact space. There will be huge fibre requirements in urban metropolitan areas in general, and that’s just for the 5G access parts. When you start putting in other layers, like smart city applications, smart grids, autonomous vehicles and whatever the killer app will be for 5G, fibre is needed to support the technology.



Do you provide on-going maintenance such as component replacement and testing, as a


infrastructure. The thinking with most of the communication providers, including the Altnets, is to use existing infrastructure where possible. There is a programme of rationalising the existing copper network as well, whereby you can raise a network adjustment, for example with BT, to remove the old lines. The cost is a big challenge, with break-even time and Total Cost of Ownership is a big consideration. Technically, on full-fibre networks you’re not delivering power so one of the big factors to consider is the 50 volts circuit that runs across the copper lines which acts as an emergency power supply, meaning when the power cuts, the phone line never goes down. That needs to be considered when the PSTN is switched off and fibre will take over with battery backup to the IP phones. It’s essential that homes and businesses have that resiliency.

network management service?

NN Yes, all of above, everything from first-line management and on all tiers. In strategic places from the UK to Southern Africa and across the EMEA region, we operate fault management, maintenance operations and parts replacement, including the teams with vans and warehousing with a stock of everything. We also provide data collection and asset management, and we can map the networks and are able to tie all these pieces together and work with vendors to make sure that the passive and physical network assets are speaking to the network management software.

Do you get involved in planning things like the OSS, or is that a customer issue? Typically, we don’t, because the customer normally will have their OSS and BSS sorted out by the



What types of networks are most in demand at present?


time they engage with us. We do however, have the expertise in-house to talk on that level with our clients, and we realise fully the importance of it in recording the network, fault managing the assets and being able to do things such as inventory, operations and maintenance on the network, as well as how that supports that whole billing part. I can think of one operator at the moment we’re starting up with where we provided some information on the network inventory software and processes that they might onboard, but it’s not our niche area. On the Indigo side, we’re quite engaged with the CSP in how they establish accounts, access rights, so that we’ll be able to manage the OSS hardware over the operator’s network. We have a NOC in our Magor

Are there any major differences between planning a basic transport or access network and

Currently, the fibre operators are experiencing a large demand, so we have found lots of new



5G or IoT networks?

Opportunities and have thankfully initiated many new contracts in recent times. My area of expertise is in fibre networks and I’ve visibility of what’s happening across the UK and Ireland. We’re designing and rolling out several networks with altnets in the UK and in Ireland. We’re also supporting the upgrade of wireless networks to 4G and 5G and we’re engaged with several operators in the UK in the wireless arena as well.

Yes, the big difference is in the access side, especially with regards to 5G and IoT networks is


densification. There are going to be significantly more cells with the advent of 5G. The analysts forecast billions of cells will be rolled out to support 5G. The density on a typical London street means you could have them every 20 to 40 metres. Where there are three operators, you could triple that number, which means rolling out tens of thousands of fibre connections across the access

Thank you.



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At current growth rates, internet services, including data-intensive gaming, virtual reality and OTT HD video, combined with today’s digital TV services will consume the entire capacity of today’s hybrid fibre coax (HFC) networks in just a few years. Networks must start evolving now to survive. The events of the last six months have given us all an unprecedented view of what the future of network bandwidth demand has in store, writes Emmanuel Vella , VP Sales N&C Europe at CommScope.

F rom our conversations the world has been in varying stages of lockdown. Firstly, heavy network demand, which previously would spike between 8pm-12am (4 hours) now occurs from 8am-2am (18 hours). with customers and peers and through our devices in the field, we’ve seen two main trends emerge from the past few months when Also, downstream traffic has increased by 26-86% during the daytime and by 12-32% at night, while upstream traffic has increased by 30-150% during the day and by 14-50% at night. That is to say, bandwidth is not just spiking, but spiking over much longer periods of time. And for the upstream, those spikes are much higher than they used to be.

for home working, online learning, video conferencing, online gaming, and streaming TV. The learning for cable operators is clear. In the short-term, maximising current capacity can go a long way towards serving the immediate demands of consumers, but the only longer-term solution is to increase the available capacity per subscriber in both the downstream and upstream. The good news is that broadband operators are fully cognisant of these trends and accelerating their pipeline of network upgrades to get ahead of demand and prepare their networks for the future—however it may look. Looking towards the medium-term, industry solutions focus primarily on making large-scale plant and CMTS configuration changes as well as investment in building network capacity. While these revolve around more complex network upgrade strategies, they also have the potential to more broadly boost capacity and strengthen the network. One example

end users is essentially down to good design. Modern broadband networks were rolled out with additional overhead (fitted with extra wiggle room) to prepare for bandwidth bursts from things like file downloads and file uploads… or more extreme scenarios like what we’re going through now. This extra capacity, in tandem with the application of short-term network solutions, is keeping us running and spreading bandwidth use over time, effectively meeting network demand. These solutions include CMTS configuration changes, extensive node segmentation and adding additional DOCSIS 3.1 CMs utilizing OFDMA spectrum to leverage higher spectral efficiencies. Fixes like these are a couple of examples of ways to maximise the current infrastructure and will likely lead to a 5-66% improvement in bandwidth capacity. However, this is not sustainable. We continue to see a 20-30% jump in bandwidth use every year on average, as people leverage more and more connected technology


The reason why everything is more or less working as it should with minimal impact on quality of experience for


| ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020


10G is the cable industry’s vision for delivering remarkable internet speeds to homes across the globe.

different parts of the network. HFC networks will need more fibre – the foundation for the enhanced bandwidth and latency demands brought about by 10G. It will need to be deeper in the network to account for symmetrical speed and to support growth over the next 10 years. In the passive optical network, 10G broadband makes it possible to add various functionalities, such as integrating 10 Gbps symmetrical PON and DWDM, or delivering managed voice, video, data and IoT services. Innovating new techniques to balance the asymmetry of cable networks can be tricky as traditional cable networks have much more downstream bandwidth than upstream, and for 10G to support future network applications, that needs to come closer to parity. This year is showing us how crucial connectivity is in keeping our society running in the face of rapid and unpredictable changes. It’s showing us the importance of forward-looking design. And it’s giving us clues as to where the opportunities for network innovation lie. As operators begin to put these changes in place, they’re not only investing in solving today’s problems, they’re also quietly laying the foundation for a new connected world. Nobody knows which developments will soon be enhancing our lives and work, but they will certainly need ultra- fast internet and mobile connectivity. A new wave of applications will require significantly higher symmetrical speeds, lower latency, and enhanced reliability – and 10G has the potential to deliver it all. CommScope offers migration paths that allow operators to get the most out of their existing HFC infrastructure. With CommScope’s fibre densification solutions, operators can roll out advanced network options targeting higher capacity, lower latency, enhanced security and reduced operational costs—at a pace that doesn’t strain workforce or budget.

major role in ensuring that all of these devices work to their full potential. For example, a 4K UHD movie can downloaded in one minute while maintaining reliable bandwidth and Wi- Fi throughout the home. Consumers aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the promise of 10G as industries such as healthcare and education will tap into this technology to improve services and enable new applications. The smart campuses of tomorrow will need ubiquitous connectivity to facilitate the increasing uptake of IoT devices in schools and universities, ensuring low latency for real-time teaching and the recording of human traffic as students and academics travel to and from institutions. Care homes and hospitals are another useful beneficiary of connectivity with nearly all institutions across the world already hosting a range of connected devices, and 10G speeds have the potential to revolutionise the efficiency of a sector where time is always of the essence. HOW FAR AWAY ARE WE? The introduction of 10G broadband will not be instantaneous. Instead it will gradually be built on existing infrastructures across the world as internet providers leverage existing fibre-rich networks with new technologies to elevate the performance of different parts of the network as a whole. 10G broadband will need to support many applications that require a fast, reliable combination of fixed and mobile networks, such as smart cities, healthcare tools, connected gaming, video streaming, virtual and augmented reality, education and business applications. It will be instrumental to the future of the innovation economy, but it will take time. Convergence is vital to 10G. To enable symmetrical connectivity up to 10 times faster than today’s, wireless and wired networks have to merge – and this has major consequences for design and operation and affects

of this is converting single-carrier QAM (SC-QAM) channels, such as a 32-QAM to 64-QAM operation. However, one of the longer-term solutions being prioritised by the telecoms industry is DOCSIS 4.0 and the 10G initiative, which are seen as the evolutionary step forward for operator networks. DEFINING 10G AND ITS POTENTIAL The applications of tomorrow will soon need vastly higher internet speeds, ultra-low latency, and uncompromised reliability, safety and security – and 10G could be the answer. Not to be confused with the fifth generation of connectivity that has just come to the global stage - the “G” stands for gigabit and is closely associated with broadband technology that delivers symmetrical speeds 10 times faster than what most of us experience today. 10G is the cable industry’s vision for delivering remarkable internet speeds to homes across the globe. While both technologies are exciting in their own right, one shared expectation of both 5G and 10G internet is the promise of never before seen connectivity speeds, ultra low latency and the support of new applications such as AI, AR/VR, IoT and machine to machine communications.


The “work-from-home reality” is now part of our lives. During recent lockdowns we’ve seen that connectivity is king as speedy and reliable broadband bridged the gap created by social distancing, helping to ease the transition for millions. More than ever people are playing online games, using social media and streaming videos several times in just one day, so it comes as no surprise that we’re relying on our home networks more than ever before. We are seeing a rise in the average number of connected devices in households worldwide and 10G is going to play a


ISSUE 22 | Q4 2020

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