Spring 2020 - Optical Connections Magazine

Bringing the World the Latest in Optical Communications News

ISSUE 20 | Q1 2020




CONTROLLING THE NETWORK The Automation Ultimation? | p8

FULL FIBRE ROLLOUTS Catching up with demand? | p11

BSS FOR OPTICAL NETWORKS Empowering new customer experiences | p16

ADDRESSING THE SKILLS SHORTAGE Putting testing in the spotlight | p18


4 8

Industry News

John Williamson The Automation Ultimatum?


11 Ellen Manning 14 Radha Nagarajan Full Fibre Rollouts 16 George Malim 18 Peter Dykes 20 David Chen 22 Peter Dykes 24 Eugene Park 26 Antony Savvas 30 Giovana Labegalini Fibre Connectivity 32 Peter Dykes OFC Preview 34 Peter Dykes 35 Product News Fibre Densification

Welcome to the Spring 2020 issue of Optical Connections. The fibre optic communications industry is without doubt in a period of great innovation and change, with new techniques being developed for component manufacture, high-speed transmission and infrastructure rollout. Much has been discussed and written about those areas, however, less attention, in the media at least, has been given to how such increasingly complex networks are managed and controlled. The fact is, traditional OSS/BSS (Operational/Business Support Systems) do not offer the same degree of control and flexibility required by fibre optic networks as they did for traditional copper-based infrastructure. In this issue, experienced technology writer George Malim takes a look at the new approaches to BSS and assesses what fibre providers need from such systems. On the OSS side, regular contributor Antony Savvas looks at how the latest deployment trends can deliver improved monitoring over increasing numbers of data points to deliver a better overall performance for network organisations. In addition, veteran journalist John Williamson notes that in the scramble to remain competitive, or indeed to actually stay in business long term, many optical network connectivity providers and service operators worldwide are investing heavily in network automation ideologies, solutions and systems. We also talk to Ciena’s VP, portfolio and engineering Kailem Anderson, about the recent purchase of Centina, aimed at expanding Blue Planet’s assurance capabilities by collecting and collating fault, event, and performance data from multiple vendors and network layers. In other features, Inphi’s CTO, Interconnect Radha Nagarajan, discusses how to enable a seamless transition to 400G DCI infrastructure and Eugene Park, senior technical marketing manager at Acacia Communications examines the possibility of standardising 400G transceivers using OPENZR+. Also, David Chen, CTO at Go!Foton, explains how the company is taking on the challenge fibre densification is creating for physical connectivity and Giovana Labegalini, business development manager at HUBER+SUHNER, discusses the role of fibre in supporting IoT and 5G. The Spring issue of Optical Connections also features the usual news and four pages of the very latest products from leading manufacturers in the fibre optics industry and, being the first issue of the new year, we take this opportunity to wish our supporters, advertisers and of course, our readers, a prosperous and safe 2020.

Enabling a seamless transition to 400G DCI

BSS For Optical Networks

Addressing The Skills Shortage

The View From Ciena

The Rise Of OPENZR+

OSS For Optical Networks

FTTH Council Europe Preview

Peter Dykes Contributing Editor, Optical Connections

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ISSUE 20 | Q1 2020

“There is a compelling synergy between automation and optical networking.”


JohnWilliamson - see page 8

KPN to retire copper in fibre areas

der Haar, FCA Director.

Dutch incumbent KPN has announced plans to retire copper networks in areas where fibre has been deployed. By the beginning of 2023, KPN will put copper connectivity out of use at almost 2.4 million addresses where fibre optic is located. The operator says customers who still use the copper network at these addresses can be converted to fibre by their provider. The expansion of the KPN fibre optic network is also continuing. The operator is currently rolling out fibre optic technology in more than 70 areas. Around 1 million new connected addresses will be added by the end of 2021. At these new addresses, KPN will also put the copper network out of operation in the areas where both copper and glass are located. KPN says it will Infinera has won two partners for it’s XR Optics in the form of Lumentum and II-VI. XR Optics utilises independently routable Nyquist subcarriers and coherent optical aggregation capabilities, enabling network operators to design more efficient, flexible, and cost- effective transport networks optimised for the applications driving network growth. Nyquist subcarrier technology, pioneered by Infinera, divides a single high-speed wavelength into multiple efficient low-baud-rate subcarriers. The technology is enhanced with granular subcarrier control, allowing tighter spectrum packing which results in higher capacity-reach on a single fibre.

maintain one network in the long run.

inform customers about this in a timely manner.

According to Van der Haar, the fierce competition for the construction and exploitation of local networks is mainly about losers: “We see that competitors are trying to cut each other off at the local level. The result is capital destruction, and households and citizens who in some cases have to wait longer for fibre optics or even get no connection at all.”

But all is not sweetness and light in the Dutch fibre sector. In December last year a report from the Fiber Carrier Association (FCA) trade body warned that national competition in the construction of fibre optic networks is hardening, with negative consequences for all fibre optic parties and public confidence in digital facilities. The FCA report says several Dutch municipalities are struggling with so- called ‘over-construction’. “Often several fibre optic parties present themselves to a municipality for the construction of a fibre optic network for households. And while in the vast majority of cases only one network is profitable,” states Andrew van important team player, recognising the value of XR optics and committed to bringing this innovative solution to market.” Welch added, “We are excited to partner with II-VI to introduce this revolutionary point-to-multipoint solution that is expected to help network operators realise unprecedented savings. We are experiencing growing interest from our customers in XR optics, and collaborating with a leader like II-VI underscores the value of this innovation and our commitment to bring it to market with a broad-based coalition of top-tier suppliers.”

“To be able to reap the benefits of digitisation as a society, we need fibre optic technology, the future-proof technology for the fixed network,” commented Babak Fouladi, Chief Technology & Digital Officer and Member of the KPN Board of Management. “That is why, as a company, we are installing fibre optic on a large scale, and in areas where fibre optic and copper are located we will eventually expand this last network and deliver the services via a complete fibre optic connection.” The telco says that by converting from copper to fibre optic, all KPN and KPN Wholesale customers benefit from the best network in the ground, and KPN only has to “Collaborating with Infinera leverages our deep experience in high-speed coherent components and pluggable modules to bring an innovative solution like XR optics to market,” said Beck Mason, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Lumentum’s Telecom Transmission Business. “The XR optics concept aligns with our core strategy to provide scalable and flexible coherent optical network solutions that enable higher speeds for next-generation transport networks.” “We are delighted to partner with Lumentum to introduce this revolutionary point-to- multipoint solution designed to help network operators benefit from unprecedented savings,” said Dr. Dave Welch, Founder and CIO, Infinera. “Lumentum has been an

Van der Haar reckons abundant competition is unnecessary. “Healthy

competition is important. But too fierce competition stands in the way of cooperation. And we need cooperation to meet the fibre optic challenges of the future,” he concludes.

Infinera wins partners for XR Optics

a higher average speed of transmission, Nyquist subcarrier technology was used for point-to-point connections and appeared in Infinera’s ICE4 Infinite Capacity Engine, a new version of which is expected to be released in 2020. With coherent subcarrier aggregation (CSA) capabilities, XR Optics technology enables a single high-speed transceiver to simultaneously send and receive independent data streams to and from numerous low-speed transceivers. By leveraging these capabilities, Infinera says network operators will be positioned to significantly reduce the number of transceivers in the network, eliminate the need for costly intermediate aggregation devices and more efficiently optimise transport infrastructure.

Originally developed for long-haul optical communications to

provide greater reach and control of the signal to get


| ISSUE 20 | Q1 2020



Southern Cross Achieves 800G with Ciena’s WaveLogic 5

CST Global develops un- hackable Quantum Key Distribution technology

Responding to ongoing demands for bandwidth, Southern Cross Cable Limited has connected the first single-wavelength 800G across a live production network using Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme (WL5e) coherent optics. The new 800G channel speed ran error- free on Southern Cross’ live production network between two large, global data centres on the U.S. West Coast and demonstrated record- breaking spectral efficiencies. Southern Cross will begin volume deployment of WL5e in the second quarter of 2020 across various segments of its network, including Trans-Pacific submarine cables and terrestrial cables across U.S. West Coast and New Zealand. Southern Cross currently owns and operates a Trans- Pacific submarine cable network connecting Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Hawaii The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI, has developed a USB-powered LiFi system with low power consumption with a data rate of up to 1 Gbps in a mobile LiFi terminal. Fraunhofer HHI develops LiFi systems with a focus on applications in target environments such as backhaul, industry and for conference and classrooms. Overall, the institute has more than 20 years of experience in the field of LiFi and offers the

to the mainland United States. The network has 28,900 kilometres of submarine cables and 1,600 kilometres of terrestrial fibre optic cables. It is currently implementing a third high-capacity route to its ecosystem, the Southern Cross NEXT project, which is due for completion by the end of 2021 with a planned capability of 72Tbps+. Southern Cross is using Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme solution, which includes the 6500 Packet-Optical Platform powered by WL5e, to upgrade capacity by more than 40 times the original design potential, utilising the same infrastructure that was originally designed to transport 2.5Gbps wavelengths. Rick Seeto, Vice President and General Manager of Asia-Pacific and Japan, Ciena commented, “With WaveLogic 5, we are delivering the industry’s first 800G solution and reinforcing our leadership in providing the highest performance optics in the market.” compact USB LiFi modules for pilot installations, field tests and licenses also for industrial product development. LiFi enables fast mobile communication indoors. With a LiFi transmission, the unlicensed optical spectrum is used for wireless data transmission. In contrast to radio, light can be limited to certain rooms in a controlled manner, thereby protecting the data from unauthorised access and external interference with very high

Scotland-based CST Global has developed Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) emitter and detector technologies as part of a UK-funded, government project. The company says these technologies can enable totally secure, network communications. QKD suits mission-critical, client server applications, where unbreakable security codes prevent hacking and malicious attack. QKD can be applied to existing IT infrastructures and offers a high-security, data transmission option within the rapidly expanding, optical communications market. QKD has been developed as part of CST Global’s core competence in Quantum technologies. QKD is a result of CST Global’s involvement in the QR-SPLED, government- funded project and the ‘Single Photon Infrared Detectors for Quantum Systems’ project with Amythest research and Lancaster University. QKD requires a single-

photon, Quantum Light Source (QLS) to transmit data and a Single-Photon Detector (SPD) to receive it. CST Global has both QLS and SPD technologies developed to microscale, through government-funded projects. The SPD receiver also operates at room temperature, instead of at the impractical, cryogenic temperatures of previous solutions. CST Global’s QKD solution operates at room temperature deployment in pc, server or smartphone applications. The company is actively seeking a commercial partner interested in developing a dedicated, nanoscale chip for widespread use. CST Global provides both a custom foundry service, as well as a range of high-volume, standard laser products for the optical communications markets. It is an active partner in the UK and European, Technology Consortium Programme. and is potentially small enough, cheap enough and practical enough for

Fraunhofer HHI presents 1Gbps USB LiFi modules

device such as a laptop. Nevertheless, the highest


possible data rate should be achieved, says HHI. With an average consumption of only 3 watts, a scenario has now been demonstrated in which a ceiling lamp provides several users on their notebooks with fast network access. Peak data rates of up to 1 Gbps were achieved. The user thus receives an extremely powerful LiFi module with a small form factor.

A constant development goal is to develop a device that is as compact as possible for mobile use on a notebook. In the third generation, the Fraunhofer HHI development team headed by Jonas Hilt and Peter Hellwig have now succeeded in presenting a particularly light and compact module. The big challenge during the development was the low performance that can be obtained from a USB interface on a mobile



ISSUE 20 | Q1 2020


“What do fibre providers need from BSS?”

George Malim– see page 16

Huawei wins deal to build Maldives to Sri Lanka cable

ADVA addresses edge scaling and improves sales

Nokia is acquiring Elenion Technologies, a US-based company focusing on silicon photonics technology, to boost its optical capabilities in new markets. Elenion’s technology expertise and unique design platform and services will enable Nokia to expand its market footprint by addressing the critical and rapidly evolving optical connectivity requirements of 5G, cloud and enterprise networking, Nokia said. Huawei Marine Networks (HMN) has sealed a deal to construct a new submarine cable for the Maldives Sri Lanka Cable system (MSC). The system will facilitate a direct connection between the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and as a result increase regional capacity and network diversity. MSC is a four fibre pairs system, equipped with HMN high-output titanium housing repeaters to achieve span length over 130km. It will be ready for service by year-end 2020 with the delivery period therefore less than 11 months. The project consortium of investors include Ooredoo Maldives PLC (Ooredoo Maldives), Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun PLC (Dhiraagu) and Dialog Axiata PLC (Dialog). The project backers said: “This cable represents another milestone in the development of the region’s commitment to facilitate and promote the benefits of the

digital economy for local communities in both the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Huawei Marine Networks chief executive Mike Constable said: “We are pleased to be working again with our partners to deliver fast, reliable telecommunications infrastructure, to further promote economic development and satisfy the growing demand for connectivity in this important region.” Last month, Huawei Marine said it breached the 100 mark in terms of contracts won, including new builds and upgrade projects, since it was formed. “The stable performance of over ten contracts in 2019 brings us noticeable growth in the global submarine cable market,” it said.

which enables a “greatly simplified, low cost, scalable manufacturing process, it said. The Elenion platform is designed to simplify integration with optical chipsets, lower power consumption, improve port density and help lower the overall cost per bit for network operators. Sam Bucci, head of optical networking at Nokia, said, “As a world-class provider of silicon photonics solutions, advanced packaging and custom design services, It also supports hardware- based timing for ultra- precise frequency and phase synchronisation, “making it the ideal choice for radio access networks,” said ADVA. With its high-density and environmentally hardened design, the ADVA FSP 150- XG400 Series is also easy to deploy in space-restrictive locations with no temperature control – a key requirement for the rollout of 5G The ADVA FSP 150-XG400 Series enables businesses and mobile network operators (MNOs) to easily scale their metro networks and tackle booming bandwidth demand, says ADVA. Specifically engineered to deliver MEF 3.0 Carrier Ethernet 100Gbps demarcation and 10Gbps service aggregation, the new product family features the market’s only uncompromised line-rate 100Gbps activation testing.


Elenion provides a strong strategic fit for Nokia. Its solutions can be readily integrated into Nokia’s product offerings to address multiple high growth segments including 5G, cloud and data centre networking.” He said, “When combined with Nokia, Elenion technologies will accelerate the growth and scale of Nokia’s optical networking business, while enabling us to cost-effectively address new markets.” Stephan Rettenberger, SVP of marketing and investor relations at ADVA, said, “The arrival of 5G is bringing unprecedented data speeds, but mobile applications can only be as fast as the backhaul network. That’s why MNOs are now looking to upgrade their access infrastructure from 10Gbps to 100Gbps line rates.” smooth and extremely cost- effective migration to higher capacity while also enabling the distribution of precise network synchronisation that next-generation services require.” The supplier has also just posted its full-year results, and has reported that for the full-year 2019, revenues increased by 10.9% to €556.8 million from €502 m million in 2018. He said, “Our FSP 150- XG400 Series supports a

Nokia optical acquisition to support new markets

“Ownership of these key assets brings time-to-market and cost advantages to Nokia’s broad portfolio of networking solutions, by applying the massive scale and economies of silicon design and manufacturing to the optical supply chain,” said Nokia. Elenion develops highly integrated, low-cost silicon photonics technologies for short-reach and high- performance optical interfaces, and has pioneered a design toolset


| ISSUE 20 | Q1 2020


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In an increasingly fierce scramble to remain competitive, or indeed to actually stay in business long term, many optical network connectivity providers and service operators worldwide are investing heavily in network automation ideologies, solutions and systems, writes John Williamson.

R ight now, automation is a hot topic for all varieties of network, but there may be a particularly compelling synergy between automation and optical networking. “Having a fibre optic network without automation is like bringing a Ferrari to a street race but forgetting to inflate the tyres – extraordinary performance capability, but an inability to move forward The spread of installed and developing optical network automation opportunities is quite wide. In this context, initiatives range from the use of self-tuning DWDM transceivers to the construction of the sort of ambitious Intent-Based Networking (IBN) model favoured by the like of Cisco Systems. Either way, the attractions of automation are manifold, and can be substantial. AUTOMATION PAYBACKS In a big picture view, the types of optical network automation benefits can be categorised, singly or in combination, as: improved efficiency; cost reduction; increased revenues; and optimised service and product provision and delivery. Improved efficiency is a major draw. “This is achieved through the standardisation of procedures, fewer human errors and the re- use of automated processes,” says Stephan GEOFF BURKE CMO, BROADBAND FORUM quickly or even win the race,” contends Geoff Burke, Chief Marketing Officer of the Broadband Forum (BBF).

commercialisation of 5G and the IoT. Network disaggregation is being driven by a desire to both increase operational flexibility and lower costs by circumventing vendor lock-in. There is consensus, though, that without automation of lifecycle management and network test processes and system operations, large scale disaggregation will be uninvitingly complex. disaggregated network design practices, replacing monolithic integration,” judges Neidlinger. “Automation and open control interfaces are a proven means to efficiently integrate technology domains, such as open optical transport and high-performance packet forwarding devices.” Again, managing the complexities inherent in running 5G and the IoT services mandates the introduction of automation. Last, but by no means least, automation has a key role to play in improving the “Flexibility and agility requirements demand a move towards open and

Neidlinger, VP, Global Business Development at ADVA Optical Networking.

“Automation will also deliver cost savings through execution time reduction, reduced labour cost and the freedom it offers to redeploy personnel on other revenue-

generating tasks,” adds Neidlinger. In general, any positive impact on

OpEx reduction from automation is to be especially welcomed. “The cost to operate a network is much higher than the cost to initially build a network,” states Ben Baker, director Strategic Marketing at Juniper Networks. “Typically the ratio of OpEx to CapEx is around four-to-one.” Resource maximisation is another heading under which the positives of network automation can be addressed. “Automating a network enables you to do more faster and with fewer people,” comments Rob Shore, SVP Marketing at Infinera. “With automation, for example, you don’t have to rely on people to understand the most optimal path for traffic or calculate complex equations within the network,

security of network operations. “Security absolutely is one of the priority areas for automation,” says Baker. “Here the problem isn’t having enough data, the problem is having too much data.”

allowing operators to more efficiently use all resources at all the layers of the networks more efficiently.”



AUTOMATION’S VARIATIONS However, the dividends of automation can play out differently in different parts of the network. “Network automation will naturally bring most value to network areas that need to be frequently configured and reconfigured,” observes Neidlinger. “These network actions could be simplified using

A further potential network automation deliverable relates to the achievement of higher revenues, resulting from faster time to market, more satisfied customers, and less churn. Optical network automation also shapes moves towards the successful realisation of disaggregated networks and the


| ISSUE 20 | Q1 2020



that facilitate automation. There is also quite a lot of industry attention being paid to the possibilities of autonomous networking and Intent-Based Networking (IBN). Autonomous networks can be entities in which management, configuration and sustainment are accomplished with little or no human intercession. ADVA sees three elements to the autonomous network proposition. Firstly, the entire network must be included in the automation concept, including the hierarchical SDN controller/orchestrator model. Next, all relevant data from network layers and network elements must be collected and processed in a central entity. Here telemetry streaming - rather than the previously applied polling - is key for capturing such data in an easy and efficient way. Thirdly, advanced data processing algorithms such as ML and AI are required to enable trend analysis. “Then it becomes possible to derive what action is needed - for example reconfiguration- and to execute that in the network,” sums up Neidlinger. And, in a simplified reading, IBN involves set-ups in which network parameters and criteria are continuously and completely automatically adjusted to deliver intended business and operational outcomes. PITFALLS AND PROSPECTS Notwithstanding their many prospective plus points, optical network automation implementation campaigns face some sizeable hurdles. Cost is one. “Operators can be fazed by the upfront costs associated with the integration needed to automate an optical network and integrate back-end systems to ensure they work in conjunction with each other,” remarks Burke. Another is the pre-existing environment with multi-vendor and multi-layer.

optimisation, and each vendor having its unique environment, with a diverse set of elements, managed by its own processes. “For most network operators you’re looking at years of optical network operations and deployment, with the challenge now being adding in advances in automation to what is there, and doing so in a practical, consultative way,” argues Shore. Standards are an issue. Due to the vastly diverse size, scale and market dynamics of operators around the world, individual automation requirements differ markedly. “The involvement of a wide spectrum of the industry in the standards process is needed to ensure that all needs are being addressed as new standards are developed for the world of automaton,” asserts Burke. For his part, Baker instances the challenges of organisational inertia, lack of appropriate skill sets, and the fear (misplaced?) of job losses. Even so, the optical network automation engine is switching into a higher gear. But the answer to the question what’s likely to be next up depends on who you ask. For Infinera it’s more disaggregation. Shore believes the transformation of an IP/optical infrastructure to an open, disaggregated software control environment will require disaggregated routing solutions. ADVA predicts the automation remit will enlarge. Neidlinger says most operators are using SDN automation architectures to achieve end-to-end multi-vendor operations. “While network automation initially focused on service activation there is increasing interest in also using open control interfaces for service assurance and therefore extending automation to every operational aspect,” he concludes. But whatever the future throws up, for savvy optical network providers and operators, the adoption of automation is clearly becoming an imperative rather than a nice-to-think-about option.

automatic procedures.”

By contrast Neidlinger points out that the value of automation would be limited in network areas that are static, or cannot be reconfigured. An example might be passive optical point-to-point access links. In the same vein, different network sectors may lend themselves more readily to automation than others, and priorities may differ depending on the operator or service provider department concerned. For example, Baker thinks customer service using chat bots is a low-hanging automation candidate. “It also depends on the domain of the network and the stage you’ve reached in the network lifecycle,” he says, adding that network elements that are behind on the virtualisation curve will be tougher to automate. THE GROUNDWORK As such, one of the essential pre-requisites and building blocks of optical network automation is deemed to be virtualisation in the forms of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV). “One of the things you need in most cases before automation is to have a software Two other important ingredients in the automation mix are Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Although these are both sometimes presented as emerging enablers, ML is already quite well established in one corner of the network landscape. “Security is one of those areas in networking where ML has been going on for many, many years,” according to Baker. Another approach to automation is cognitive networking. As described by Infinera, this term denotes entities that are self-aware, multi-layer, self-organising, and self-healing. According to this contractor, a stepwise, walk-before-you-run approach is necessary to realise such networks. Infinera reckons that two fundamental characteristics are required here for practical network implementations: a compact discrete, app-based approach to automation, with the use of small software packages that can be added to an existing ecosystem or environment to add automated capabilities incrementally; and networking functions or applications that can be added to systems BEN BAKER DIRECTOR STRATEGIC MARKETING, JUNIPER NETWORKS aspect of the network, or a virtualisation aspect of the network. It’s hard to automate things that are just predominantly physical hardware,” notes Baker. “The whole point of virtualisation is to automate.”

For most network operators you’re looking at years of optical network operations and deployment, with the challenge now being adding in advances in automation to what is there. The involvement of a wide spectrum of the industry in the standards process is needed to ensure that all needs are being addressed as new standards.



ISSUE 20 | Q1 2020


400G Pluggable Product Family 400ZR/OpenZR+, ITU, OpenROADM, CableLabs



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It is the backbone of global communications, but in the past it may have seemed that fibre rollouts have struggled to keep up with demand. While fibre to the premises deployments have increased steadily, the demand for the services they provide - from broadband to mobile services - has grown exponentially. But it seems things might be changing, writes Ellen Manning.

L atest figures from analysts Point Topic suggest that global fixed broadband subscribers grew by 2.17% in the third quarter of 2019 - taking them to 1.12 billion. That comes alongside a decline in the number of copper-based lines such as ADSL, suggesting that fibre rollouts are picking up the pace. Point Topic’s figures put the USA and China at the top of the table when it comes to subscribers at 125 million and 400 million respectively. China also showed the largest growth, contributing to East Asia making up nearly half (47%) of all fixed broadband subscribers. That

compares to a fifth (21%) made up by Europe, and 11% by North America. According to the figures, while wireless networks have seen some growth, another area was ‘full fibre’ networks - suggesting that FTTx rollouts are doing what they were intended in terms of connecting people. CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM The industry certainly appears optimistic. In September 2019 a study by America’s Fiber Broadband Association and consulting firm Cartesian predicted that all-fibre deployments would be achievable to 90% of households within the next decade. The study, which looked into costs associated

with deploying all-fibre networks to all households across the US, found that the country is on pace to deploy to about 50% of US households by 2025. The report cited increasing consumer demand for higher performance broadband, provider willingness to focus on long-term returns, and government efforts to lower barriers to deployment costs as contributing to the growth. Speaking at the time, Fiber Broadband Association president and CEO Lisa R. Youngers said: “Building all-fibre networks throughout America is not a pipe dream. We have long known that having access to all-fibre networks is far superior than other



ISSUE 20 | Q1 2020


on legacy infrastructure - something not unique to the UK - he said a shift in policy to focus on full-fibre networks had “changed the picture”. Even Brexit has helped, he suggested. “I think in a sense, whatever your view of Brexit is, one thing it has done is focus government on the need to ensure that we have the right sort of infrastructure - all types of infrastructure - to enable us to be fit for purpose in a competitive economy and that includes digital infrastructure.” UK TO TAKE LEAD? Citing IDATE’s predictions, Corbett: “By 2025 the UK should leapfrog most of the other members of the FTTH council and most of the other countries in Europe and get near to the top. So if everything works out as intended then we will see a very significant change with at least 50% of premises in the country having access to full fibre connections and the bandwidth and services that go with that. In reality there’s an awful lot of stuff that’s got to be fixed and done to make that happen, but that’s the driver.” But when it comes to the future of fibre rollouts in the UK, there are still hurdles to get over. For Evan Wienburg, CEO of independent service provider Truespeed, things aren’t moving quickly enough. “Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2019 report, released in December, paints a sobering picture of UK full fibre deployments. While it’s encouraging to see that full fibre broadband coverage in the UK has risen 4 percentage points over the past 12 months to 10% of UK Like Corbett and other commentators, he wants to see commitment and action from both government and regulator - including addressing the issue of overbuilding in certain areas. “We are definitely encouraged by the new government’s commitment to ‘get full fibre done’ - to coin a phrase,” he said. “But how do they plan to accelerate roll outs? We urgently need the government to commit to aligning with infrastructure providers if we are to meet the ambition of introducing full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025. As an industry we are definitely moving the needle, but there is much more work to be done to accelerate full fibre rollouts and make gigabit-capable connectivity ubiquitous across the UK.” EVAN WIENBURG CEO, TRUESPEED premises, it’s clear that as a nation we are not moving fast enough to cement our digital economy’s future.”

didn’t “properly understand the benefits of Full Fibre versus metallic-based alternatives”. But on the flip side, he said consumers are more aware than ever of the important elements of broadband and would not “tolerate inferior services”. Asked whether Europe is making good progress towards full fibre despite the challenges, the FTTH Council Europe told Optical Connections Magazine that while deployment had “accelerated significantly over the last few years”, the continent still needed to step up its efforts to build full fibre-based Very High Capacity Networks everywhere. It called for a practical legislative framework that cuts red tape and effectively ensures that fibre can be built swiftly, saying: “In order for the industry and investor communities to deliver fibre networks, there is a vital need for a high-level political commitment to full-fibre infrastructure. Moreover, it is of utmost importance to ensure that the regulatory and legislative framework promotes efficient competitive fibre investments and introduces practical measures aimed at facilitating an efficient and swift fibre deployment both in cities and in remote areas.” But the picture isn’t quite as simple as Europe vs the US. Within Europe, countries are set to undergo a shift in who’s leading the race to full fibre. While IDATE’s forecasts suggested that Russia would continue to lead the ranking for FTTH/B homes passed in 2020 and 2025, it also predicted that the UK would catch up with other countries and is set to become second in the ranking in 2025 - in the FTTH Council’s words, the UK and Germany are likely to “skyrocket” from the bottom to advanced positions in the ranking. For Malcolm Corbett, CEO of the UK’s Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA), while it may have lagged behind in the past, the UK’s fibre future is promising. “There’s an awful lot happening

technologies in driving economic growth, social interaction, and political engagement. Now we know that deploying all-fibre networks to most parts of the country within the next decade is feasible.”


The view that all-fibre networks are vital for economic growth as well as social equality isn’t isolated to America. In Europe, FTTx rollouts continue apace, with providers and governments recognising that investment is the only way to cope with growing demand and futureproof networks for years to come. Market Panorama and Forecast data gathered by IDATE on behalf of the FTTH Council Europe and revealed at last year’s FTTH Conference showed that FTTH/B coverage had reached 36.4%, with a 21% increase in subscribers. The data - which will be updated at this year’s FTTH conference in Berlin - found that the deployment of both FTTH and FTTB networks had increased significantly, noting a ‘clear upward trend’ in coverage rate from September 2015 to September 2018. The report also found that fibre technologies had evolved, with a predominance of FTTH architecture over FTTB, and noted that governments and local authorities were getting more involved in fibre projects, while incumbents in some countries had modified their strategy to deploy FTTH solutions instead of continuing to rely on legacy copper-based or cable-based networks. ACCELLERATINGMOMENTUM At the time of the report, then FTTH Council president Ronan Kelly said the figures showed “a momentum that is accelerating”, saying: “Full fibre is the way forward and the results of the Market Panorama provide compelling evidence of this.” The prediction that such growth would continue doesn’t appear to have been empty words. Only in December, Orange sealed a US$700m

in the UK. There’s a lot of investment coming in to build new fibre networks, a lot of new entrants and undoubtedly there will be a process of consolidation over time.”

loan with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to finance part of the deployment of its Very High-Speed Broadband fibre network in France in AMII (Appel à Manifestation d’Intentions d’Investissements).



When it comes to achieving the UK government’s target of making gigabit connections available to everybody by 2025, a lot of challenges will lie around the market itself and what the government and telecoms regulator Ofcom does to facilitate more deployment. Attributing the UK’s current position to a decision to rely

Yet there are still barriers. Kelly previously cited misleading advertising a challenge to fibre rollouts in Europe, saying he was worried that watchdogs - like consumers -


| ISSUE 20 | Q1 2020


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As the industry plans its migration of DCI infrastructure to 400G pluggable technology, the common view has been that different solutions will be used at the edge and in metro and long-haul networks, writes Radha Nagarajan , CTO, Interconnect, Inphi.

T he emerging concept is to use the same 100G/200G/400G is nearing reality with the availability of low-power, high-density QSFP- DD, OSFP and CFP2-DCO coherent pluggable modules that support the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) 400ZR standard. These modules will drive a paradigm shift in how DCI is deployed by cloud and telecom service providers, enabling high-density IP over DWDM on switch and router platforms that also have the performance required for metro and long-haul networks. Motivated by the need to lower cost and power consumption of DCI, leading cloud operators, OEMs, module and chip vendors have joined the OIF in the development of an industry standard for 400ZR compact pluggable modules. There has been an evolution in thinking as the industry now contemplates where 400 ZR fits in a “DCI- pluggable digital coherent optics (DCO) module across all distances. This concept

Solving each of these challenges required the development of an industrywide ecosystem that supports pluggability and a new era of interoperability. The ecosystem that has evolved will enable telecom and cloud providers to not only deploy solutions for DCI edge applications up to 120km but also use the same 100/200/300/400G solutions across the entire DCI infrastructure. Several new developments are paving the way for pluggable modules, including transceiver integration and interoperability advances that enable this seamless transition to 400G. These advances are being driven in several ways. The first is through the availability of 400G single-chip, coherent Silicon Photonics Integrated Circuit (PIC) devices that include all transmit and receive functions, and low-cost methods for passive alignment of fibre to this PIC device that eliminates the complicated active alignment, using traditional optics. Another important development has been the integration of an industry-standard firmware management interface in transceivers that enables full performance monitoring. This was previously only available in dedicated transport systems, directly from the optical module. Equally significant is the availability of low- power, high-performance, 7nm CMOS- based coherent DSPs that enable 400ZR as well as extended reach 100/200/300/400G ZR+ modes. The use of probabilistic shaping technology in these latest DSP architectures enables them to maximise data rate at longer fibre distances while delivering lower deployment cost per bit. The DSPs also leverage new forward error correction (FEC) PAVING THEWAY

Any-Distance” approach (Figure 1). There also have been some obstacles to navigate that, until now, have made it difficult to provide the seamless transition to coherent 400G pluggable solutions for routers and switches. First, coherent DSP ASICs have, to date, been designed for dedicated transport boxes. The power consumption and package size had not been sufficiently optimised for QSFP- DD or OSFP form factors preferred in the high-density switch and router interfaces. These DCI dedicated boxes add cost and dissipate power. Second, there has been a lack of Interoperability across generations of coherent solutions for 100G and 200G. With the switch and router ports evolving to 400G, there was a need for an industry wide 400G coherent standard that was interoperable. And third, there has been a lack of a clear application space, as the conventional coherent technology had been deployed in many forms across various distances and optical fibre span configurations.

Figure 1: Technology choices in optical transport for datacentre interconnects.


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Figure 2: 400G 16QAM DWDMQSFP-DD pluggable module for DCI

Extended performance beyond ZR to ZR+: For end users that need performance beyond 400ZR, today’s 7nm coherent DSPs offer multiple reach and data rate options for metro and long-haul performance. This gives cloud and telecom providers the option to extend 400G reach while also spanning lower data rates to thousands of kilometres on their metro and long-haul networks. Figure 3 shows how 100G is now expected to evolve to a 400G infrastructure using a next-generation 400G coherent QAM. The latest technology advances are enabling a seamless transition to 400G in the DCI infrastructure, increasing density while slashing both power dissipation and the cost per bit to unprecedented levels. New 400G ZR and ZR+ DCO modules will deliver a unique value proposition for cloud and service provider customers and be supported on standard switches and routers for DCI, metro, and even long-haul DWDM networks. This will accelerate the adoption of 400GbE with 400G ZR and ZR+ across multiple platforms, enabling service providers, cloud and enterprise customers to transition to 400G for lower cost per bit and increased bandwidth while achieving better economics with no density/throughput trade-off for packet-optical integration. LOOKING AHEAD What will follow is a massive increase in switch rack capacity -- as much as 4-6 times more throughput per chassis -- while reducing power consumption by as much as 80 percent. Cloud end users will be able to dramatically lower the cost of scaling out their cloud data centres around the globe. Meanwhile, as cloud service providers continue to scale for rapidly increasing bandwidth demands with lower latency for their customers, the trend towards distributed regional data centre architectures will accelerate and provide numerous advantages including higher resilience and availability for end users.

for 120 kilometres reach DCI applications: CFEC is an extension of the Staircase FEC adopted by the IEEE and ITU. New economic model: Cloud operators can now connect metro data centres at a fraction of the cost of traditional coherent transport systems. As the underlying 7nm silicon geometry delivers over 75 percent reduction in DSP power dissipation and size as compared to the current generation of coherent DSPs, it will spur a new generation of pluggable modules that enable cloud end users to dramatically lower the cost of scaling out their cloud data centres worldwide. This in turn will help accelerate the trend toward distributed regional data centre architectures. This more distributed architecture within each metro region as compared to traditional huge data centres residing in single campus facilities will provide advantages including higher resilience and availability for end users. Eliminating a layer of network connectivity: Switch and router companies can now offer the same density for both coherent DWDM and client optics in the same chassis, eliminating a layer of network connectivity that was previously required while supporting high-capacity DWDM connectivity directly from data centre switches.

technology options that better facilitate the move to 400G ZR while providing the ability to select either the power optimised ZR or high-performance modes so modules can cover a wide range of network applications. Also, as these DSPs moved to 7nm silicon geometry, it has become possible to achieve the reduced power dissipation and size that are required for small form factor pluggable modules. A first example of solutions that use this type of DSP architecture for cloud DCI is the Inphi COLORZ II 400ZR QSFP-DD transceiver (see Figure 2). It introduces the opportunity to leverage a multi-vendor, industrywide ecosystem that eliminates the risk of getting locked into proprietary single vendor solutions. Establishing a new, multi-vendor, industrywide ecosystem has numerous important implications for the next generation of 400G DCI deployments: Interoperability: A large ecosystem of system and module OEMs using the same coherent DSP architecture in QSFP-DD, OSFP and CFP2-DCO modules will allow for interoperability between transceivers and even for extended reach modes.

Industrywide adoption of concatenated FEC (CFEC) technology by the OIF, IEEE and ITU

Figure 3: 100G evolution to 400G infrastructure, Mark Filer, Microsoft Corp.



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