Summer 2020 - Optical Connections Magazine

Bringing the World the Latest in Optical Communications News

ISSUE 21 | Q3 2020

GAMING & ESPORTS Major players in network design | p10

ECOC 2020 PREVIEW Big bash in Brussels | p20

800G-WHIZZ Upping the data rate | p6

CLEANING FIBRES The do’s and don’t’s | p16


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A GOOD TIME TO LOOK TO THE FUTURE The summer of 2020 may not be quite the season we all thought it was going to be, but the industry continues to innovate and look forward to the future with optimism. Here at Optical Connections things are no different. In this issue we look at the technologies that will take consumers and businesses into a super-fast future. 800G is on the cusp of rolling out globally and on-going tests over increasingly greater distances are showing great promise. Veteran journalist John Williamson looks at the drivers and challenges for 800G and its prospects for the future. One company with a keen eye on the future of 800G is Infinera, and in this issue, we sit down with Rob Shore, the company’s SVP Marketing, to take a deep dive into what’s involved in carrying out speed and distance tests. The need for speed is having a big impact of future network design and few things are creating a greater need than online gaming and esports. We talk to Ciena’s CMO Joseph Cumello about the impact this sector is having on network architecture design. Standardisation is another factor that is having an increasingly important role in the future development of optical communications, a prime example being OPENZR+. Coherent optical technology, traditionally a closed-system technology with proprietary implementations, is now evolving towards standardised and interoperable solutions, observes seasoned telecoms writer Antony Savvas . His feature looks at the current work being done on the standard for pluggables, its future prospects for adoption and its likely impact on the industry. It is essential that a fibre network is properly installed and maintained. This means ensuring that all fibre and connections are kept perfectly clean to avoid potential problems which could result in unreliable performance or a complete system shut down. Jay Tourigny , senior vice president at MicroCare looks at the do’s and don’t’s of keeping fibre in a pristine condition. Speaking of optimism, nowhere will you find it in greater abundance than at Europe’s biggest optical communications event, ECOC 2020 Conference & Expo , which, due to the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, has been postponed until 6th – 10th December. With the conference in it’s 46th year, the Expo, in conjunction with Optical Connections, is celebrating 25 successful years with the ECOC Awards which will recognise the key players and innovators in optical communications industry. In this issue, we list the categories for which companies and individuals can be nominated and how to enter. The Expo will also feature regular events such as the ever-popular Market Focus, for which speaking opportunities are still available. Again, full details for entries are available in this issue.


Industry News


John Williamson 800G-Whizz

10 Joseph Cumello Gaming & Esports

12 Robert Deffa-Wilk Incab & Emtelle’s JV

14 Antony Savvas

Howdy, OPENZR+!

16 Jay Tourigny

Cleaning Fibre Optics

18 Rob Shore

The View From Infinera

20 ECOC Preview

Conference & Expo

22 Market Focus

Call For Speakers

23 ECOC 2020

Industry Awards

25 Product News

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




Optical transport market outlook optimistic - report

Telecoms market analyst Del ‘Oro’s finds that demand for bandwidth, the main driver behind optical market growth, has been given a boost by the recent pandemic. As a result, Dell ‘Oro is forecasting that the optical transport market, largely comprised of DWDM systems, will expand in 2020 and for the next five years, reaching nearly US$18 billion. However, it says, there are near term challenges related to supply, distribution, and installation.

global pandemic in 2020 that ushered in a global economic recession. It is still unknown how much longer COVID-19, will spread and cause economic disruptions, and at what rate the global economy will recover following massive shutdowns in the first half of the year. That being said, while in past macro-economic recessions the optical transport market would contract, we believe that in this recession, the demand for optical transport will increase as a large number of people shift to remote learning and working.

Gbps-capable line cards started to ship in early 2020 and it expects volumes to ramp during this year, as additional vendors introduce their products. It forecasts that by 2024, nearly 30 percent of wavelength shipments will be from an 800 Gbps-capable line card. More than half of these line cards are expected to be used at 400 Gbps. It also predicts the next wavelength speed following 800 Gbps will be 1.2 Tbps. Based on the timing of past coherent DSP introductions and first-line card shipments, the company anticipates 1.2 Tbps-capable line cards to enter the market

in the 2023-2024 time period, but more likely in 2024. The company also sees demand for optical transport gear for data centre interconnect taking a turn in the near future, with disaggregated WDM transponder unit sales being a bright spot of growth, annually growing at a double-digit percentage rate. It notes however that the introduction of 400ZR will moderate the market’s growth.

The report notes that the world experienced a

For more information, visit

Dell ‘Oro says the first 800

Fujitsu to Upgrade FiberLight Network

Partners tap Emtelle for Dutch fibre optic cabling solutions

Emtelle is to supply a range of fibre optic solutions and components, as part of the collective efforts between T-Mobile Netherlands, Primevest Capital Partners and VolkerWessels Telecom. Together the partners plan to build a new fibre network in the Loosduinen area in the Hague, connecting 25,000 households to a network with speeds of at least 1Gbps, with Emtelle fibre optic solutions in deployment. Preparations for the deployment started in June and construction will begin in August.

Fujitsu Network Communications, is to expand and upgrade US operator FiberLight’s , high-bandwidth fibre network using Fujitsu’s 1FINITY™ platform and Virtuora® Network Control Solution Since 2019, FiberLight has deployed the modular Fujitsu 1FINITY platform, including 1FINITY T300/T310 Transport and 1FINITY L100 Lambda series blades in a network capable of exceeding 400G speeds throughout Texas and Oklahoma. This solution is fully compatible with FiberLight’s existing base of Fujitsu FLASHWAVE® 9500

from a previous project in 2019 where the partners connected 32,000 homes in the Segbroek neighbourhood of the Hague with Emtelle pre-installed fibre solutions being deployed to reach the outlined speeds. Whilst both projects are in the city of the Hague, both districts present different housing landscapes. In the Loosduinen district, most residential buildings are high rise apartments meaning Emtelle’s 2-fibre optical cable was the optimum solution for providing efficient and direct access to each home whether it be installed underground, aerially, or internally.

packet optical networking equipment, allowing smooth network evolution with pay-as-you-grow scalability.

FiberLight will also use Virtuora PD, a planning

and design application that provides a representation of the actual network topology, models optical performance and designs optical circuits in real time. FiberLight operates 14,000 route miles of fibre networks with clients in over 30 metropolitan areas in the U.S., and selected the Fujitsu solution to enable transport speeds of 100G and above while increasing efficiency through automation.

This comes as a progression


| ISSUE 18 | Q3 2019


Sparkle taps Ciena for U.S.-Chile subsea upgrade

Sri Lanka Telecom taps Nokia for FTTH network

International service provider Sparkle, and Ciena have announced the upgrade of Sparkle’s 10,476km fibre on the Curie submarine cable, using Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme (WL5e) 800G programmable solution, to improves capacity and speed on the Chile to U.S. route. Sparkle will also have direct connectivity between data centres in the U.S. and Chile using Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme Submarine Network Solution powered by WL5e. In addition, through Ciena’s

Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT), one of the leading telecom service providers in Sri Lanka, wi ll deploy an FTTH network based on Nokia’s fibre technology. Supporting its accelerated f ibre initiative, the deployment enables SLT to bring high-speed broadband services to more than 200,000 enterprise and residential users across the country. SLT is rapidly enhancing its broadband footprint in Sri

Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller, Sparkle will be provided with real-time intelligence and visibility to help its network proactively identify connectivity issues. Ciena says by adopting WL5e, Sparkle’s fibre on Curie will be able to reach a total transmission capacity of up to 450Gbps per channel – which is two times faster than previously available technology. This will result in an ultimate capacity of up to 19Tbps and a 30 percent increase in the network’s ability.

Lanka to better respond to growing ultra-broadband demand from customers. With Nokia’s f ibre solution, SLT can provide customers with high symmetrical download and upload speeds along with new enhanced broadband services supported by next generation XGS-PON technology. The solution wi l l future proof SLT’s network by enabl ing it to evolve to virtual isation and Software Def ined Access Networks (SDAN) by software upgrade.

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ISSUE 18 | Q3 2019



booming demand for additional, lower cost bandwidth to support ultra-fast Internet access, more and higher quality video content, higher-speed datacentre interconnect; and new services and applications such as gaming, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 5G. This ‘capacity rapacity’ is also evident inside datacentres, with a widely cited Cisco estimate that, by 2021, nearly 15 Zettabytes of traffic will be transiting datacentres, rack-to-rack, without leaving those centres. “What’s driving the need? It’s basically very simple,” says Helen Xenos, senior director, portfolio marketing at networking equipment, software, and services company Ciena. “It’s all about keeping up with all this end user bandwidth demand that we’re seeing, while at the same time decreasing the network cost.” Reduced cost is a compelling and well- established piece of the higher optical capacity deal. “Lower cost per bit – this is always the driver for higher data rate per wavelength,” observes Geoff Bennett, director of solutions and technology at optical and IP networking company Infinera. “Creating 800G with multiple transponders is more expensive than using a single 800G transponder.” Ciena also views the embracing of 800G as a strategy that provides operators and service providers with an elegant evolution to the networked use of

A flurry of 800G-related optical networking activity is presently kicking off in different locations across the world. Veteran journalist John Williamson looks at the latest developments.

A partial account of this phenomenon for the first three months of this year takes in: subsea operator Southern Cross using Ciena technology to connect what was billed as the first single wavelength 800G solution across a live production network; Huawei’s launch of what it said was industry’s first 800G tunable optical module; the announcement that Verizon, in partnership with Ciena and Juniper Networks, had completed a live network test that moved 800 Gbps of data on a single wavelength; news that China Mobile and Huawei had completed a live demonstration of an 800G optical transport network; the successful trial by Infinera and Corning of an 800G single wavelength system across 800 km; Turkcell’s achievement of an 800G WDM trial with Huawei on a live mobile carrier network; and Infinera’s report that it had conducted a live network trial of 800G single wavelength transmission

at 96 Gbaud over 950 km in a major North American network operator’s production network. Winston Way, VP and CTO at photonic integrated optoelectronic device specialist NeoPhotonics, remarks that in 2020, Ciena, Infinera, and Huawei have announced their 800G line-card products for multi-rate and multi-haul applications. “These products can find applications in long-haul 400G and high spectral efficiency short-haul 800G systems,” he explains. “On the other hand, some hyperscale datacentres have publicly talked about their future need, in two to three years, of pluggable 800G transceivers for datacentre interconnections.” 800G DRIVERS So, what is prompting these and similar efforts to get 800G further along the road to commercialisation? The on-going escalation of present and foreseeable capacity requirements is an obvious driver. In WAN and MAN optical networks there’s


| ISSUE 21 | Q3 2020


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pluggable transceivers resides in requiring ultra-low power consumption DSP and low-cost, low power consumption optical components.” Bennett has a different perspective. “The way to create an 800G wavelength is to use very high order modulation at very high baud rates. Both have their technical challenges,” he says, adding, “Modulation is now moving to Probabilistic Constellation Shaping.” He also thinks demonstrating an extended optical reach for 800G might be necessary to enlarge the potential market constituency of the technology. “Some vendors are positioning 800G as a very short reach solution – perhaps for single span datacentre interconnect” he observes. “Infinera believes our implementation will have a much better reach and can be applied in much more of the addressable market.” Interestingly, so far as one aspect of the 800G proposition is concerned - the line side - lack of standards does not seem to represent such an impediment to wider adoption as it does in so many other communications technology innovations. Bennett answers the question: what does the 800G standards landscape look like? “There isn’t one. DWDM line side interfaces have to be leading edge in terms of performance. So ‘standards’ are very much a secondary consideration and tend to follow - if at all - years after initial products enter the market,” he says. “This has always been the case for DWDM since the mid 90s and it is totally accepted in the customer space.”

line-cards and 400ZR/400ZR+ pluggable modules. “800G line-cards can provide a higher spectral efficiency, but at a higher cost, power consumption, and size. 400ZR/400ZR+ is just the opposite,” he says. “The need for either one is highly dependent on how urgent a hyperscale datacentre needs to get the fibre capacity in place.” Again, NeoPhotonics’ CTO foresees possible competition between two generations of 800G DSP chips. “Depending on demands, a customer will have to decide to choose between the two generations of DSP-enabled system/module products: 800G based on 7nm CMOS, rolled out this year, and 800G/1T/1.2T DSP based on 5 nm CMOS, expected in 2022”. Way also thinks 800ZR-like products might be sidestepped, reporting that some hyperscale datacentres have already said that they will skip 800ZR-like products, and what they want is 1.6 Tbps pluggable or co-packaged modules/boxes. Silicon photonics and onboard optics are expected to play a major part in the future 800G developments. “Silicon photonics is a mandatory requirement for the 800G story to meet the cost, power consumption and reliability targets,” asserts Arabzadeh. “On board optics is the packaging technology that will be essential part of the 800G roadmap to be able to fit the core technology inside small footprint.” For her part, Ciena’s Xenos identifies two main directions of next generation optical networking travel. “From an optical networking perspective, the industry is moving in two different investment directions for what’s next,” she states. “So we continue to look at the next level of performance that you can get: how much more can you carry over a single set of electro-optics. There’s also evolution towards footprint optimisation, offering high capacity coherent connectivity in a small pluggable form factor.” Xenos also speaks of 800G going longer distances, the possibility of future single carrier rates being a multiple of 400G or 800G, and the prospect of 800GbE client connections being transported across networks. In all of this, though, she adds the caveat that any next step developments will have to offer a material enough improvement in efficiency and cost over what we can achieve today.

emerging client side 400GbE interface routers and switches.

FIRST RESPONDERS As evidenced by Ciena’s recent customer announcements, early adopters of 800G include all-purpose communication service providers, subsea operators, cable companies and research networks. “There’s a wide range of network sectors that are looking to be early adopters of 800G,” says Xenos. “It’s essentially all the networks where spectrum efficiencies, or getting the most capacity over deployed fibre assets, is important.” Datacentre operators are also prime candidates. “Hyper-scale datacentres can deploy high spectral efficiency short-haul 800G/wavelength datacentre interconnections systems,” points out Way. “Datacentre interconnect tends to be the leading application for higher data rates,” agrees Bennett. “800G will be commercially available this year, and Internet Content Providers will adopt it very quickly.” There’s large potential inside datacentres too, with Hamid Arabzadeh, CEO of next gen interconnect solutions company Ranovus, suggesting that early adopters would be Ethernet switches inside datacentres as top of the rack and end of the row. UNFINISHED BUSINESS? As might be anticipated, the widespread realisation and deployment of commercial

800G technology has its share of challenges. What priority these are

accorded could be determined by your position in the 800G ecosystem, although there is some consensus that cost and power consumption are issues needing to be generally addressed. “Cost: today’s solutions have separate PAM4 ICs, driver ICs, transimpedance amplifier ICs and traditional photonic technologies – EML - in several discrete chips that are connected together,” comments Arabzadeh. “Today’s solutions consume a lot of power at the interfaces of these discrete chips.” “The challenges in making 800G line- cards include trading power consumption with OSNR performance in the DSP design, and optical components with sufficient bandwidth and low power consumption,” offers Way. “The challenge in making 800G

WHAT’S NEXT? While 800G is still gaining traction,

thoughts are turning to what might be accompanying that technology down the very-high-capacity optical networking turnpike. According to Arabzadeh, two key trends are the transition of Ser/Des technology from 50 Gbps PAM4 to 100 Gbps PAM4, along with the cost and power consumption reduction velocity of 400G. “It is forecasted that 400G will have a shorter lifetime, and once 800G becomes available in the same form factor at lower cost per Gbps then no one will deploy 400G,” he predicts. Way anticipates datacentre operator- oriented competition between 800G

Winston Way, VP & CTO, NeoPhotonics

Helen Xenos, Senior Director, Portfolio Marketing

Geoff Bennet, Director, Solutions& Technology, Infinera

Hamid Arabzadeh, CEO, Ranovus


| ISSUE 21 | Q3 2020

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With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing vast numbers of people across the world to stay indoors, often for months on end, a huge spike in network traffic was inevitable. While there has been an increase in services such as streaming movies, businesses have been making much greater use of video conferencing and families meeting via the likes of Skype and Zoom. However, a significant proportion of the increase is down to gaming and esports traffic, which according to Verizon, increased by 75% in the US during March of this year. Optical Connections editor Peter Dykes asked Ciena’s CMO Joseph Cumello , himself an online gamer, how this increase in traffic was impacting on networks now and in the future.

Is this increase in esports and gaming traffic just a result of lockdown, or is there something

the immersion versus the one-way experience when it comes to entertainment and I think that’s the huge shift in behaviour that’s driving this.

that latency has a lot to do with whether or not you have a successful outcome. So, whether you’re a network provider or a gaming company, what you’re trying to do is push the cloud engine, the data centre engine or whatever is driving the gaming platform, closer and closer to the edge. The closer the cloud gaming intelligence is to the user, the lower the latency can be especially, of course, if the core transport network is fibre. So how networks react to that depends on a couple of new technologies out there. Firstly, there’s route optimisation and assurance, the so-called software automation technology. This looks for congestion points in the network and


more fundamental going on?

How can networks respond to surges in traffic generated by things like esports and online

What I believe is happening is that the generations that are coming up believe that an immersive




entertainment experience is more enriching than a one-way experience, such as watching TV or a movie. Gaming has become so rich, it’s becoming immersive. There are games out there where you can immerse yourself in the narrative and be part of that narrative. And I think that this is the reason why we’re seeing this change. People want

There are multiple pieces of that problem. The first is when you’re talking about actual gaming, as


opposed to streaming. The gaming experience itself requires a very low latency experience, especially if you’re competing, and what folks are finding is


| ISSUE 21 | Q3 2020


The difference between next generation networks that are being built today and networks of the past is this ability to modify or change network parameters.

These are all some of the new concepts that all operators are trying to build to, a new way that networks are being built. I’m not saying everyone’s there yet, but that’s where it’s going.

meet those requirements, then you’re in a pretty good spot to help carriers adjust to whether it’s e-gaming or IoT or whatever the situation is. There’s lots of different elements to that, but at a high level, that’s our approach.

Ciena has a product called Route Optimisation and Analysis as part of our Blue Planet portfolio that actually looks at potential congestion points in the network and says, okay, maybe there’s a big tournament happening, or there’s a big streaming event happening and then it feeds that congestion. It can talk to a controller, which need not be a Ciena controller, and that will increase or decrease bandwidth or resources to deal with the problem. The difference between next generation networks that are being built today and networks of the past is this ability to modify or change network parameters. This ability was really limited in the past and was bolted on to those networks. Now, all the software control we’re building into networks means we can for instance, manage margin on an optical circuit, or utilise unused existing margin to increase bandwidth for a period of time. These are all ways to shift the parameters of the network to deal with these traffic spikes. These are some of the things being developed, but all of this effort is to create what really matters at the end of the day: a positive experience for gamers, because they’re paying for the service, and they’re competing in the tournaments. From a streaming standpoint, there’s some interesting data out there from ESL and other gaming leagues on some of their championship events, which are often streamed to more people than things like the Super Bowl. So now, we have an issue with streaming, where you’ve got anything up to several million people globally watching the big Championship match for whatever the hot game is at that moment. That then brings its own challenges, because now you’re talking about tablets, TVs, mobiles and PC’s with everything streaming from data centres at once. Again, the same kind of network parameters apply, with software control, looking at congestion and modifying network parameters to deal with that congestion. A lot of this technology is state of the art. We’re talking about AI and software control technology, and programmable infrastructure that can adapt or adjust to specific conditions.

How have these developments impacted on the industry as a whole?


What are you working on to take this forward into the future, because it’s obviously not going


to go away?

JC The key factor here, related to gaming, but more importantly related to everything we do in networking, is the movement by the industry to insist that the vendor community open up their software interfaces in their platforms. This means that you can no longer go to an operator or a cloud network provider, and say, “Here’s my hardware and it only works with this software.” That 30-year-old modus operandi has been blown out of the water. Now when you show up to the party, you have to say, “Here are my API’s and here’s how you access my system. My software will do it really well, but if you want to use someone else’s software, that’s okay.” This I believe, is one of the biggest mind-shifts that has happened in the last five years. You can call it SDN, automation, opening up the OSS, whatever, but to me, that is the inflection point. So whether it’s 5G or gaming, or IoT, it almost doesn’t matter. The shift in these disruptions is creating that requirement. The optical programmes are no different; the optical platforms have to be open as well.

No, it’s not going to go away. that’s for sure. I think our whole philosophy as a business is from


an investment standpoint, to allow our customers to have comfort that when they invest in us, they’re investing in a level of future proofing that’s not just about being able to scale their networks up to 800G tomorrow, or optics, but also, from a broad perspective, across software and packet access services, and that we’ve got the right tools for them to adjust to things like e-gaming. So it’s being built into our hardware, software and our services. How the company operates is really around helping our customers manage disruption. I wouldn’t say Ciena is in the business of building a specific gaming product, it’s not what our customers want. What they want is help managing all of these changes. EA gaming is an application that were serving as well as any other application, but the reason we highlighted is because I don’t think people saw the amounts of disruption that it created, or the amount of traffic associated with it. That’s why we spent a lot of time on it. The next thing we’re spending a lot of time on is edge compute, and we believe a lot of time and resource and energy is now going into this. We’re hearing from customers that their investments in mobile edge computing, edge computing is skyrocketing, and it’s largely on the back of things like gaming, 5G, AR/VR and autonomous vehicles. So we believe that’s kind of the next frontier that we’re going to start working on. Our current platform serves those needs, but we believe we’ll be making additional investments over time to meet these challenges.

What is Ciena’s approach to supporting network operators with these kinds of issues? Conceptually, our theory is that you need to build networks that are more adaptive to deal with the



unknown. Ciena’s approach is working with our operators to be able to scale the optical bandwidth when needed. Do they have the software automation resources

they need to see those problems happening? Can those software

resources adjust and control it and will it all work in a multi-vendor way because the single vendor universe is over? If you


ISSUE 21 | Q3 2020


Following the formation of Emcab, the joint venture between Emtelle and Incab announced in July 2020, Robert Deffa-Wilk , managing director, Emcab, discusses the thinking behind the new venture and its plans for the future. INCAB & EMTELLE: BETTER TOGETHER JV TO OFFER 100% COMPATIBLE FIBRE CONNECTIVITY

Robert, give us a little background on Emcab, the products and your role within the new venture Emcab is a brand-new optical cable manufacturer based in Erfurt, Germany and is a joint-venture between Emtelle and Incab. Both companies have been working together successfully for years and now Emcab combines the advantages of both companies to be leading system supplier. We are delivering superior optical fibre cables with high- class quality and unmatched compatibility with Emtelle microducts from four manufacturing sites, Erfurt Germany, Hawick Scotland, Perm Russia and Arlington USA. My role within Emcab as managing director is to lead the team to success in terms of sales, manufacturing, and supply quality. Leading such a brilliant team that manufactures and sells best-in- class solutions is an exciting challenge for me after a lengthy career in microducts and cables. What sets Emcab apart from the competition? Emcab certainly isn’t ‘just another cable company’. We are set apart from standard

it comes to developing new cable options and optimal solutions. We reduce the complication of network design options and guarantee a fantastic, compatible, full solution in ways that suit our customers, which ultimately helps them concentrate on deploying fibre cables quicker and better than ever before. Why should customers choose Emcab? Choose one supplier and get it right first time. Our full system solution allows customers to buy cables and microducts with the appropriate closures and accessories, all fully tested to guarantee compatibility with each other. Why buy from multiple suppliers when one supplier can do all. We’re all about making it easy for our customers; supplying from four manufacturing sites across the world with a global sales team allows us to support customers efficiently. We work with our customers closely to develop and supply the optimum solutions and having the ability to be flexible means our customers can get world-class quality to suit their needs.

cable manufacturers as we are a system supplier, delivering first-class solutions with guaranteed quality. Combining the knowledge of Emtelle and Incab gives us the ability to deliver a full duct and fibre cable system, plus all relevant closures and accessories, all fully tested, approved and certified. We use Corning® fibre in our cables which gives 10% less fibre attenuation, improved reliability and resistance, plus 10 times higher bend-resistance compared to standard single-mode fibres. All our cables undergo regular approval tests at our regional test tracks using our latest manufacturing and design technology. Our four blowing tracks that conform to IEC 60794-1-21:2015 standard plus our continuous quality control processes enable us to maintain the premium calibre of our cable solutions. How does Emcab expect to meet the needs of an ever-developing industry? Innovation and flexibility are key for Emcab. The Emcab ideal goes way beyond pure manufacturing. What we want is to support our customers locally and cover all demands when


| ISSUE 21 | Q3 2020


What challenges does the industry face and where does Emcab fit in solving those challenges? In a fast-paced industry, networks are requiring deployment faster and easier than ever before. On top of this, getting the correct product can be a real challenge, not to mention that you must choose the right cable to go in the right microduct. Emcab eliminates this need – we work with our customers to support them in selecting the correct solution for them. We have all the abilities in terms of people and innovative solutions to assist in this. Our ABC Configurator is the perfect example of this – our customers can choose the perfect solution for their application by simply selecting relevant parameters at a click of a button. What are the differences between cable and blown fibre? While blown fibre has vast benefits, there are some things fibre just cannot do. Emcab optical cables allow for higher fibre counts with up to 864 fibres. Historically backbone cable ducts were often congested with heavy cables, but now with the latest technologies in fibre core (200 µm for example) we can accommodate increased fibre capacity within a smaller cable diameter. With smaller cable diameters, more fibre can be installed into the network, and installing such cables into Emtelle microduct bundles offers more individual and flexible pathways. What are the next steps for Emcab – including long and short-term goals? First and foremost, it’s about making our customers aware of Emcab. Since launching, the interest has been phenomenal, proving we are in a promising position to increase our market growth in Europe and further afield. We will be working hard to become and secure a position as cable leader within the industry. We have lots of beneficial sales tools to showcase our offering and we will be taking these to our customers in the coming weeks. It doesn’t stop there - we have got lots of exciting developments up our sleeve which we will be releasing on our Emcab LinkedIn – follow us to be the first to know! Emcab strapline is “Embrace Cable Excellence” – what is meant by that? Primarily the concept of Emcab is two companies embracing to create the ultimate solution offering. Clearly, we are proud of our passion for cables and product excellence, and while it’s been embraced by both Emtelle, Incab and all involved in Emcab, the aim is for our customers to embrace Emcab’s cable excellence and be just as passionate


and capacities of both further elevates the service we can provide to the worldwide market. Our four manufacturing sites allow us to widen our supply to our customers across a larger geographical area in an efficient manner. Tony Rodgers, CEO Emtelle: As Alexander says joining Emtelle’s blown fibre and microduct manufacturing experience with the fibre optic cable capabilities of Incab, allows Emcab to offer a truly best-in-class, 100% compatible fibre connectivity solution. The additional fibre capacity this venture brings to Emtelle further enhances the fibre-in-tube capability and capacity, with guaranteed operability between fibre and duct. This is the solution our customers have been asking the market for: cables and ducts that are matched – straight off the drum - guaranteed.

as we are. In recent difficult times of “no embracing” we want to bring this approach back to our customers, move together and create a closeness that generates great service for our customers. Embrace Emcab, Embrace Excellence. A question for the two partnering companies; why Emtelle and why Incab? Alexander Smilgevich, CEO Incab: It goes without saying that combining both our technical experience and capabilities of both Emtelle and Incab made logical sense. We’ve worked closely with Emtelle for many years now and appreciate their established knowledge & experience within fibre and microduct manufacturing. It was clear to us that both our products go hand in hand. Fusing the two together and combining capabilities

Robert Deffa Wilk Managing Director, Emcab

Tony Rodgers CEO, Emtelle

Alexander Smilgevich CEO, Incab


ISSUE 21 | Q3 2020



The OpenZR+ technology standard for efficient optical connectivity is being pushed by some big heavyweights in the industry, but what is its commercial viability in the short-to medium-term? Antony Savvas finds out.

T he adoption of

support multi-vendor interoperability.

interconnects, as well as potential future carrier applications. It also maintains the simpler Ethernet-only host interface of 400ZR, but adds support for multi-rate Ethernet and multiplexing capabilities at 100G, 200G, 300G or 400G line interfaces with higher dispersion tolerance and higher coding gain using openFEC - also used by the Open ROADM MSA. Basically, OpenZR+ leverages elements from both 400ZR and Open ROADM industry standardisation efforts, both of which appear to be gaining momentum already. Network operators can achieve the benefits of 400ZR with enhanced features that can expand reach and functionality without sacrificing interoperability. This will help carriers and hyperscale data centre network operators by ensuring multiple suppliers for their critical components. The 400ZR effort, driven by the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF), is focused on data centre interconnects (DCIs), while the Open ROADM effort is focused on carrier applications. The OpenZR+ implementation was designed to enable enhanced functionality and improved performance in pluggable form factors, such as QSFP-DD and OSFP, in order to

optical transceiver/ transponder solutions usually accelerates when implementable standardisation and

PARTNERS OpenZR+ has been building industry momentum with initial support from Acacia, Fujitsu Optical Components, Juniper Networks, Lumentum and NTT Electronics. These companies, and others, are in discussions to form an OpenZR+ multi-source agreement (MSA) to promote the standard. An MSA would see multiple manufacturers make standardised products that are compatible across a range of telecom vendors’ hardware. Tom Williams, vice president of marketing at Acacia, which was acquired by Cisco last year, says, “OpenZR+

interoperability are established. Coherent optical technology, traditionally a closed-system technology with proprietary implementations, is now evolving towards standardised and interoperable solutions too. 400G pluggable modules represent a key architectural change in high-bandwidth data centre interconnects because they can be plugged directly into switches and routers offering the same density for both coherent DWDM and client optics in the same chassis. This architectural change helps network operators support their growing bandwidth demands in a more cost-efficient manner. FLEXIBILITY The OpenZR+ solution provides an open, flexible and interoperable coherent solution in a small form factor pluggable module that addresses data centre applications for edge and regional

was designed to expand the application space for a coherent solution in a small form factor pluggable module. Specifically, OpenZR+ combines the focus on Ethernet

TomWilliams Marketing Vice President, Acacia

traffic of 400ZR, the performance of the Open ROADM specification and


| ISSUE 21 | Q3 2020


OpenZR+ was designed to expand the application space for a coherent solution in a small form factor pluggable module

Chaouch, distinguished engineer at Arista Networks, says, “400ZR is critical to meeting customer demand for growing data centre interconnect bandwidth, and we believe the thermal and optical performance of Acacia’s coherent platform in the OSFP form factor will provide network operators with a very reliable and power-efficient solution.” Andrew Schmitt, directing analyst at Cignal AI, says of the potential, “Interoperable 400G solutions have the potential to transform cloud DCI and traditional operator architectures and create new applications for coherent optics at the edge of the network.” FORECASTS The first OpenZR+ pluggable modules will probably see some production in the second half of 2020, but the publishing of the OpenZR+ MSA, expected later this year, should drive wider production. But for technology research house IHS Markit, while the potential for OpenZR+ is clear, the commercial deployment of such technology may be gradual. Timothy Munks, principal research analyst for optical networks and data centre optics at IHS Markit, says, “We believe there is good market opportunity for OpenZR+, but it needs a formal standard or official MSA to become a reality. If this does happen in a timely manner and open and disaggregated initiatives continue to gain popularity, we expect OpenZR+ based products will compete with multi-rate embedded solutions for metro and regional optical transport networks.” He says if the group currently around OpenZR+ formalises an MSA with ‘robust specifications’, these products could come to market ‘relatively quickly’ because they leverage

existing work from both 400ZR and Open ROADM projects. However, he warns, it is still currently unclear how and when OpenZR+ based products will be realised. “For our forecast, we assume that OpenZR+ becomes commercially

multi-vendor interoperability, in order to provide network operators with an operationally efficient solution for DCI applications with reaches beyond 120km.” OpenZR+ can help address not only a broader range of hyperscale data centre applications for higher-performance edge and regional interconnects, but also some emerging carrier transport architectures, Williams says. He adds that the commercial driver for the technology is a need for 400G pluggables that are ‘critical’ to meeting customer demand for DCI bandwidth. “We anticipate that the availability of merchant DSP (digital signal processor) solutions supporting OpenZR+ will help to expand the use cases for interoperable coherent pluggable modules in a QSFP-DD or OSFP form factor.” Atul Srivastava, CTO at NTT Electronics, says, “The enhanced functionality and improved

available in 2022,” says Munks. For the general pluggable and

interoperable transponder market, if the product development schedules of the leading vendors hold, he says, it is expected that customer sampling and trial activities for 400ZR will begin in the second half of 2020, with the possibility of the first commercial deployments by the end of the fourth quarter in 2020. IHS Markit expects that 400ZR will be used primarily for P2P 400G links interconnecting routers and switches and for Ethernet muxponding of four 100GE channels. It forecasts commercial deployments for Open ROADM transponders to begin in the second half of 2020. For both 400ZR and Open ROADM, commercial deployments will ramp up in 2021. Because of the ‘uncertainty’ about OpenZR+, and the fact it is ‘intended for similar applications in data centre networks as Open ROADM is for telecom service provider networks’, IHS Markit says it has grouped OpenZR+ and Open ROADM in a single category for its market forecasts. It also says it expects that costs for OpenZR+ and Open ROADM optics to be similar. While commercial deployments for Open ROADM transponders will begin in 2H20, OpenZR+ “will lag the Open ROADM schedule [by up to nine months] and these products may not see commercial deployments until 2022”, says IHS Markit. The combined worldwide market for the two is expected to be worth over US$500 million by 2023.

performance of OpenZR+ was designed to allow network operators to address a wide range of applications using this interoperable solution. By exchanging test vectors with Acacia, we are helping to

Atul Srivastava, CTO, NTT

enable network operators to move forward with increased confidence that multiple module vendors will be supporting the OpenZR+ ecosystem.” In addition, Arista Networks is testing Acacia’s initial offering to the industry. Referring to the Acacia 400G-OSFP-ZR module working with the Arista 7000 Series switches and routers, Hacene


transceivers. Having a single metric, like transmitter dispersion eye closure (TDECQ) used for PAM4, is the goal for interoperable 400G coherent optics. IHS Markit says the industry is also working to standardise on error vector magnitude (EVM), which was standardised for 100G coherent applications. EVM is a single metric that predicts OSNR performance with various transmission impairments.

transponders from different vendors over an open line system. To accomplish this, says IHS Markit, the T&M equipment needs to be able to simulate the worst-case performance of the transmitter, receiver and line system independently, to test for errors in all possible vendor, impairment and performance permutations. 400ZR will be used in data centres in a similar fashion as 100G PAM4-based datacom

The development of interoperable coherent transponders creates challenges for test and measurement (T&M) equipment. The standards for 100Gbps coherent using DP-QPSK need to be adapted for 400G data rates and higher order modulation up to 16QAM. Besides performance and optical signal to noise ratio (OSNR) testing, T&M equipment also needs to add the capability of testing for interoperability of


ISSUE 21 | Q3 2020


For next generation optical networks to manage the enormous amount of data and high connectivity speeds demanded by the consumer, it is essential that a fibre network is properly installed and maintained. This means ensuring that all fibre and connections are kept perfectly clean to avoid potential problems which could result in unreliable performance or a complete system shut down, explains Jay Tourigny , senior vice president, MicroCare. CLEANING FIBRE OPTICS: THE DO’S AND DON’TS

D ue to the meticulous nature of maintaining a fibre optic network, it is critical that technicians are properly trained to know exactly how to correctly handle and clean termini end-faces. Even the smallest speck of dust left on a connector can prove detrimental to a network. However, because you cannot see the actual fibre end-face without an inspection scope, the cleaning process is not always obvious. It is therefore important to understand and implement proper fibre cleaning procedures to ensure the network’s performance is reliable. Technicians must use tools and fluids engineered specifically for cleaning fibre optics and use them properly to ensure fibre optic cleaning success. There are specific dos and don’ts when it comes to the correct cleaning procedures. When cleaning end-faces, always remember to use the three-step process of inspect, clean, inspect. STEP 1 INSPECT • Don’t look directly at the laser-energised fibre optic termini with your eyes, and don’t expose skin to direct or scattered

source of contamination and reduce the number of cleaning rounds. • Do determine which cleaning technique is appropriate for the contaminant and the fibre optic end-face. Do you need a wipe, a swab, or cleaning fluid? Know what you need in order to perform an efficient cleaning process. Consider purchasing a ready-to-use fibre optic cleaning kit that includes everything needed to clean most commonly used connectors. STEP 2 CLEAN • Do clean in an enclosed area when possible. If there is a lot of dust and debris, wipe the outside of the mated pair before disconnecting to remove the heavy soil first. • Do clean any inspection tools and the adapters that will be used to inspect to prevent any cross-contamination. After performing those initial cleaning steps, then you are ready to clean the fibre connectors. • Do thoroughly wash your hands before handling the fibre optic connectors and the cleaning supplies. Clean hands are less likely to transfer dirt and oils that can compromise the cleaning process. • Don’t apply a moisturiser or lotion to your hands prior to cleaning the termini.

radiation. Most laser and LED light sources used in fibre optics operate in the near-infrared and infrared wavelengths. While they are invisible to the eye, they can cause significant damage in the form of corneal, retinal, or skin burns. Only view the termini with equipment engineered to safely inspect fibre optic end-faces. Be safe and always treat all termini as though they are laser- energised. • Do learn what each type of contaminant looks like. It is important to know which contaminants you are working with in order to properly clean the fibre optic end-face. • Contaminant can come in many forms and from many sources including fingerprint oils from the technician, lint from clothing, exhaust fumes and moisture from the atmosphere or simply dust. Dust particles are one of the most common contaminants and can originate frommany sources, including dead skin, plant pollen and cardboard boxes. • Do a thorough examination to find the type of contaminant(s) on the end- face. It might just be one particulate or a combination of dust, oil, and salts. Understand what you’re facing in the beginning to successfully eliminate the


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