Optical Connections Magazine Autumn 2022

Bringing the World the Latest in Optical Communications News

ISSUE 30 | Q3 2022

CO-PACKAGED OPTICS: Putting the pieces together | p20

COHERENT PLUGGABLES: A Fast Developing Market | p14

EPIC CEO INTERVIEW: Niek Rijnveld | p24

DWDM: The Top Five Line System Innovations | p18


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ECOC GETS A BOOST IN BASEL It’s that time of the year again when the fibre optics industry heads for ECOC, which in 2022 means a trip to beautiful Basel. With visitor and exhibitors back at pre-pandemic levels and above, this year’s conference and exhibition is not to be missed, and neither is this issue of Optical Connections. With increasing kilometres of fibre going in the ground worldwide and developments in transmission technology rising to meet the impending data tsunami, we look at some of the big questions the industry is asking at this crucial time. Perhaps the biggest question of all at the moment is given there’s a massive amount of fibre in the ground now, how do you make money from it? In a recap of Optical Connections’ webinar on the subject, some of the industry’s top experts try to answer that very question. The feature sums up some of the main points that were made, but you’re strongly recommended to take at look at the replay on the OC website to learn the detail behind the arguments put forward. In other features, OC regular Antony Savvas cast an eye over the latest developments in Coherent Pluggables and John Williamson lakes stock of the latest developments in Co-Packaged Optics. Speaking of bringing technologies together, Nokia’s Serge Melle examines the possibilities brought about with IP-Optical Integration. Elsewhere in these pages, Infinera’s Paul Momtahan nominates his top five DWDM line system innovations and how they’ve evolved, while MicroCare’s Liam Taylor takes a practical approach to combatting the evils of static damage to fibres. In addition, this issue’s EPIC CEO Interview is with Niek Rijnveld, at Optics 11, a developer and manufacturer of fibre optic interferometry products for industrial and life science applications. Niek’s story is fascinating and full of advice for others looking to find an application for niche technologies. Definitely a must-read. We can only offer a small glimpse into the current state of the industry within these pages, but for the big picture and all the major players within it, they’ll all be in Basel, so enjoy this issue and above all else, enjoy the show.


Industry News

8 Monetising Fibre Peter Dykes 12 Managing The Damage Liam Taylor 14 Coherent Pluggables Antony Savvas 18 DWDM Paul Momtahan 20 Co-Packaged Optics John Williamson 24 EPIC CEO Interview Niek Rijnveld, Optics 11 26 IP-Optical Integration Serge Melle 28 Event Focus

30 ECOC Preview 36 Product News

Peter Dykes Contributing Editor


READ ONLINE/SUBSCRIBE: www.opticalconnectionsnews.com FOLLOW US @opconsnews

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ISSUE 30 | Q3 2022


Photonic packaging market to hit US$452.3bn by 2032

of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, is increasing quickly. Their data communication needs are increasing the required capacity of global communication networks. The transfer of data, logic, and applications to the cloud increases the need for latency reduction while allowing for increased network capacity by using photonics. The market study also found: • The global photonic packaging market is projected to grow 1.7X and reach US$ 452.3 billion by 2032.

According to a new report from analysts Fact.MR, the global photonic packaging market is estimated at US$ 452.3 billion in 2032 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 5.7% during the forecast years of 2022- 2032. It says the market is poised to grow due to remarkable use case of photonics in several end- use digital applications. The Photonic Packaging Market study explains that with the rise of 2.5D and 3D package integration techniques and the emergence of the IoT, connectivity requirements are skyrocketing. The number

Fact.MR says technological

• The market witnessed 4.1% CAGR between 2017 and 2021. • Optical photonic packaging dominates the market with US$ 110.9 billion valuation in 2022. • APAC dominated the market with 68.2% market share in 2021. • Together, the Americas and EMEA are likely to represent 32.2% market share in 2022. • Based on region, demand for photonic packaging is expected to increase at CAGRs of 5.1% and 6.6%, respectively, in APAC and the Americas.

advancements such as passive Fibre-to- PIC alignment, more accurate flip-chip vertical integration, improved thermal-stack design, and others have created

a significant impact. Moreover, with ‘soft’

developments such as the adoption and publication of packaging standards and the consolidation and expansion of the component and material supply chain, there has been a dynamic shift in the overall photonic packaging landscape.

Verizon taps Juniper for core upgrade

Nokia, Telekom Serbia, send 600Gbps over 600km

needs of its residential and business customers. In the trial over MTEL- Telekom Serbia’s live traffic network, Nokia demonstrated 600Gbps line performance over a 600km path consisting in 6 spans, through C-F ROADM nodes. By operating over spectrally efficient 100GHz WDM channels, Telekom Serbia and MTEL will be able to maximise capacity, performance, and operational efficiency while lowering network TCO. CTO, Telekom Serbia, Djordje Marovic, CTO M-Tel Milan Aleksijevic said, “We are continuing to invest into the latest WDM technology to serve our customers with more demanding traffic growth, low latency requirements and agility for their traffic patterns.”

Nokia has successfully tested a 600Gbps line rate on Telekom Serbia and MTEL’s optical transport network over a distance of 600km between Banja Luka and Belgrade. The test utilised Nokia 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS), powered by its PSE-Vs chipset, and laid the foundation for future growth to meet the needs of low latency, high- capacity traffic demands enabling the transport of 100GE and 400GE services. In addition to long range city to city connections,

Verizon is supercharging the core of its fibre network by upgrading older router equipment with new equipment from Juniper Networks, capable of utilising the latest 400 Gbps per port optical technology. When the overhaul of the fibre core network is complete, the operator will be able to manage 115 Tbps of data, the equivalent of almost 24 billion streaming songs, at any given moment. Verizon says this upgrade will significantly increase the bandwidth needed to support wireless, home internet, enterprise, small business and FIOS customers. In June of this year, Verizon announced that data traffic on its 5G Ultra Wideband network had already increased 249%, and it expects exponentially

higher increases as more customers adopt the new technology and begin to experience the robust capabilities and performance of 5G Ultra Wideband. The new optical core, which is being built to meet customers’ growing demands through 2032, is upgradeable to future 800 Gbps and 1 Tbps per port optical technology, allowing Verizon to manage 230 Tbps of data at any given time. Additionally, because this new equipment is so dense with such large capacity, Verizon will be able to redesign its network architecture to spread the equipment out to additional facilities across geographies, building in an additional level of redundancy with the ability to reroute traffic onto a greater number of fibre routes when needed.

Telekom Serbia will deploy the 1830 PSS

family equipment (PSS-16 and PSS-8x) in two new regional rings to provide next generation, highly scalable networks based on wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) for the


| ISSUE 30 | Q3 2022



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ISSUE 30 | Q3 2022


Lumentum grabs IPG Photonics’ transceiver lines

Ribbon gets US$52 Million private funding

Lumentum Holdings Inc. has acquired IPG Photonics’ telecom

Ribbon Communications Inc. has executed a securities purchase agreement to raise gross proceeds of approximately US$52 million in a private placement financing of common stock. The private placement investors were led by Neuberger Berman client funds, and included Ribbon’s two largest shareholders, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Swarth Investments Ltd., and Heights Capital Management, Inc., among other investors. Ribbon intends to use the net proceeds from the private placement to fund general corporate purposes, including capital expenditures, working

integrated circuit capabilities and creates opportunities for increased vertical integration in future optical transmission modules.” Dr. Mason added, “Increasingly customers in the cable MSO and wireless network operator space are turning to wavelength tuneable pluggable transceivers to help expand their network capacity and this acquisition brings highly synergistic product lines addressing this rapidly

capital and debt repayment. Ribbon’s CFO Mick Lopez said, “We are very appreciative of the incremental investment being made by our existing and new shareholders. The new capital will provide the company additional financial flexibility as we execute on our strategy to invest in product development and drive near-term profitable growth.” Ribbon will issue approximately 17,050,000 shares of common stock in the private placement at a price of US$3.05. The private placement is expected to close subject to customary closing conditions

transmission product lines in an all-cash transaction. “I am very excited to add such highly complementary and differentiated transceiver product lines and ASIC capabilities, which help to expand our addressable market and augment our technology

capabilities,” said Dr. Beck Mason, SVP and

General Manager, Telecom Transmission at Lumentum. “This acquisition brings a talented team developing digital communications ASICs, including coherent DSPs, which complements our silicon and indium phosphide photonic

growing opportunity.” There is no impact to

Lumentum’s fiscal fourth quarter 2022 due to this transaction and the terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Emtelle revamps Middle East and Asia-Pac ops

chains and guarantees its customers security of supply. This will in turn meet the current environment of unprecedented demand for blown fibre and passive

Following the takeover and rebrand of Dubai-based AfriPipes in December 2021, Emtelle says it

Anubhav said, “Emtelle has a huge range of innovative solutions that both the Middle East and Asia Pacific markets are very enthusiastic about. These solutions will make a huge difference to connectivity in these regions, many of which are densely populated and lacking in fibre infrastructure, especially when it comes to Fibre To The Home and 5G networks.” He added, “Not only that, but the manufacturing space in UAE which Emtelle now has here provides huge capacity for extra growth, significantly shortens supply

Singh is an experienced international sales manager with more than 15 years working around the world, including the past seven at AfriPipes, Anubhav will lead Emtelle’s sales team aiming to boost the company’s presence in key markets including the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Iraq, Oman and Saudi Arabia, as well as the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Anubhav aims to have more Emtelle sales presence in individual target markets locally to further boost the company’s profile.

is expanding its global footprint in the FTTX industry. It also added

network solutions.” Tony Rodgers, Chief Executive Officer for Emtelle, said, “Emtelle

an additional 9,000m² of manufacturing space from five manufacturing sites, including the US and the US in April 2022, providing the company with a platform for future growth. As part of its expansion plans, the Emtelle Group has appointed Anubhav Singh as its new sales director Middle East and Asia Pacific.

continues to consolidate its position as a market leader in blown fibre and passive network solutions across the globe. We now aim is to use this opportunity to significantly grow our business, and with it our

brand, in the coming months and years.”


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With the mass migration of many of the world’s telecommunications networks to fibre from copper, and the increasingly fast rollout of FTTx, the obvious question is how to monetise fibre effectively. Early residential, business and wholesale service strategies have been put in place, but it seems these strategies for monetisation are limited. In a recent Optical Connections webinar, senior industry experts examined the issue of monetisation and concluded that it will depend largely on the implementation of new technologies and the rate at which they can be implemented. In this feature, Optical Connections’ contributing editor Peter Dykes teases out some of the prevailing arguments put forward.

A UNIQUE SITUATION It’s long been recognised that

400Mbps upstream costs less than €20 per month. Similarly, in the Swiss market, many operators are delivering 10Gbps for around CHf40 Swiss francs, which means we’re getting to the point where the Gigabit is becoming democratised. He added, “We’re almost getting to the point where the bandwidth is becoming irrelevant as a point of differentiation. We’re entering into an era, for the first time ever, of a bandwidth abundance, [in which] for a relatively modest bandwidth, most consumers with access to fibre, can afford a service that far exceeds their capabilities to consume that service - and that’s a unique time in the industry. We’ve never had that before, so it’ll be interesting to see how services and applications adopt to take advantage of all of that new capacity.” WHICH TECHNOLOGY? The panel were in agreement that significant monetisation could only

be achieved through the choice of technology. Raza Khan, senior marketing manager, Wireless Products in the Signal Integrity Group at Semtech said that while the data throughput for residential, business and wholesale will increase exponentially in the coming years, there is also the demands of 5G and later 6G to consider. He says, “what this really means is that any new infrastructure or equipment that’s deployed, needs to be able to handle all that future capacity and end user throughput, particularly starting from the front haul, and then all the way back as the infrastructure moves towards the core. So that’s where it’s important to start thinking about scalable technologies, technologies that can help people, better for the environment, be low power and low latency.” However, he adds, “It’s not a one solution fits all scenario. It’s a complex architecture, to say the least,

replacing copper with fibre will open up new revenue possibilities but once throughput demands and pricing issues have been resolved, monetisation depends largely on an operator’s overall technology development strategy. Doug Blue, Business Development North America at Nokia said the industry has historically been focusing on price, speed, latency and network performance. However, he said, “If you’re offering a Gig symmetrical, and another company offers a similar type solution for $20, or €20 less, there is always a possibility that customer will migrate to the lower cost solution, especially if they don’t see much value.” Ronan Kelly, Adtran’s CTO, EMEA, agreed that pricing and bandwidth are not key to monetisation. He points out that for example, in the Italian market, 5Gbps downstream and


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We’re almost getting to the point where the bandwidth is becoming irrelevant as a point of differentiation

and all in all, 5G RAN architectures are really evolving and the reason is to be able to adapt to the growing user base, but also to enable new application and requirements. That being said, the one key thing we all agree on is that fibre will remain the most efficient way to connect and transport information through the infrastructure.” He says the key trends include the massive MIMO deployments which continue to increase, the continuing adoption of ECP as a front haul protocol, and cloud RAN adoption with the combination of mobile edge compute. In addition, there is small cell deployment, fibre to the room, fibre to the home, and all the small cells that will come with those. And then the application of the cell sites and the RU’s and DU’s. All of those together are some of the key trends that are happening, and they all lead to thinking about what technologies could be implement in this infrastructure. Khan says, “So when these trends come to pass, we’ll be prepared to make use of the benefits, and then offer that value proposition at the consumer level, and we’ll start to see which areas and opportunities are there to innovate. From an IC technology point of view, meaning ICs that connect the end-to-end of the fibre, they have to live on each end of this fibre network. The key challenge here is that our ICs will have to continue to support increased optical progress. We’ve had 10 Gig, this has moved to 25 Gig, and we are now looking at 50 Gig, and we have to go beyond, so it does not stop there. We have to start thinking 50 Gig will be critical right now, but it’s very important that we start thinking about scaling forward as well.” OTHER POSSIBILITIES Andrew Lord, senior manager, Optical Research at BT agrees, but says there is something else on the horizon. He said, “So far, in the discussion of PON, everyone’s been talking about GPON, XGS PON, 25G PON and 50G PON, but there’s something else coming. In fact, it’s nearly here and it’s going to be in my lab in the next couple of months. It is called XR Optics. Essentially, it’s coherent PON ready to go, certainly, within a year or so. It is using digital subcarrier technology to take a 400 Gig transceiver and to digitally turn it into individual 25 Gig streams. So, if you really want that kind of bandwidth, the consumer internet seriously does not need it, but small cells and macro cells may well need that kind of bandwidth, and there we have a Coherent PON- like technology that that’s ready to go. This may well be the end game for where things like PON are headed.”

accuracy on the location of our ducts of our fibres? If we could do that, I think that it would unlock vast monetization in terms of how we can sell that infrastructure, and how we might turn that into reliability. This is something I don’t think is trivial.” He said that at the moment, his team at BT Labs is looking at the use cases that might come from building some kind of digital twin that isn’t just a copy of the network, but it is a copy that can respond and react to network changes instantly. He explains, “A fibre network is very fast, very high bandwidth. So, we could have a real time view of the entire network changing as things change as there are problems in the network. From that, we can convert that into datasets, which we could sell and turn into external products.” He also said that in collaboration with Toshiba, BT Labs have launched a commercial Quantum Service in London, which is a map of the London quantum network, showing three quantum-enabled nodes in major BT exchanges in London, which use the fibre to distribute security via secret keys via single photons. Customers on this network are using the network for security, rather than for data, which is yet another way of monetising fibre. CONCLUSION It certainly seems there are new ways of monetising fibre which have yet to be discovered, but it is clear from this discussion that optical technology will have to go through many stages of development to reveal them. NB: The webinar participants discussed far more topics and in far greater detail than can be covered here, but a full replay of the webinar can be found on the Optical Connections website.

But Lord has other ideas about fibre monetisation, essentially by utilising the characteristics of the fibre in the ground. He said, “Can we turn [fibre] into a sensor and why would we want to do that? I think we might want to do it for our own benefit to make sure that our network is really well managed, operated, is reliable and that we understand it. And secondly, we might be able to sell data on that network. We might be able to sell the datasets that we get from the centre network and if you think about a typical fibre network, it often runs along roads, streets and highways. Often going in the same directions are things that we’re interested in, for example, traffic, and other types of capacity. There are some very serious issues regarding our infrastructure, there are many different types of cable, different sorts of duct, different depths of duct, different types of substrates, different types of PON and fibre access technology and different connections. All of these things make the understanding of our fibre infrastructure really challenging. I think that a sensing technology could really help operators to have a much better grasp of our underlying infrastructure.

Why would we want to do that? I think it might help us make our

infrastructure much more reliable, and much more. Someone talked about the benefits to consumers of more than just bandwidth. What could those user benefits be? And for sure, the main one for me is availability. It’s ensuring that this network, which is providing Gigabits per second to customers stays up.” He added, “Can we convert our really complex underground infrastructure into a digital twin, which gives us millimetre or centimetre

Doug Blue Business Development North America, Nokia.

Ronan Kelly CTO, EMEA, Adtran.

Raza Khan Senior Marketing Manager, Wireless Products, Signal Integrity Group, Semtech.

Andrew Lord Senior Manager, Optical Research, BT.


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Fibre optics play an important part in our everyday lives, writes Liam Taylor , European Business Manager, Fibre Optics, MicroCare UK Ltd. It keeps us engaged with the modern world by quickly carrying vast amounts of information across its connections to our businesses, healthcare facilities, military operations, transportation hubs and homes. Reliable, fast connectivity is vital to these functions. Therefore, any threat to a network’s operation or bandwidth capabilities must be managed to help prevent poor performance, latent speeds or complete network shutdown. Contamination on fiber optical interconnects is one of the most common threats to a fibre optic network. There are several sources of contamination, but one of the most challenging to manage is dust. Add electrostatic charges (ES) and it exasperates the dust problem further. MANAGING THE DAMAGE: THE EFFECT OF STATIC ON FIBRE OPTICS

WHAT IS ELECTROSTATIC CHARGE? ES attracts dust and traps it on ceramic and composite ferrule end faces. The ferrules and the glass fibres within are dielectric and act like an electrical insulator that can hold that static charge for months. As a result, charged dust particles are attracted to the oppositely charged connectors. In many cases, dust sticks not only to the outer areas of the connector, but also to the ferrule apex in the contact zone, where it does the most harm. Contact friction is one of the most common ways electrostatic charges are generated on end faces or ferrules. Contact friction typically happens when end faces are mated or their protective end caps are removed. Because fibre end faces are made of non-conductive materials such as plastic, ceramic, glass, or epoxies, the static charge, also known as a triboelectric charge, does not have a path to dissipate. The dust, attracted and trapped by the ES, can change the light’s index of refraction, or the route of the signal through the fibre. This may result in insertion loss which weakens the signal, slowing down the network speed. There is also the possibility of a complete system

To further complicate matters, most fibre end faces are designed with convex geometry to reduce back reflection. Although it works well for the intended job, it encourages static charge to concentrate at the contact region of the mated connector pair. WET TO DRY WIPING When cleaning a fibre optic end face, some technicians use a dry wipe or cleaning stick, but this dry wiping action typically causes more of triboelectric charge build-up and attracts airborne dust to the connector end face. In addition, the friction of the dry wiping can also encourage the shedding of fibre particles from the wipe or stick. This will immediately bond to the area being cleaned, increasing the problem further.

shut down if the refraction angle is altered enough that no signal can be transmitted at all. The ES problem is heightened with the use of higher fibre count cable. In recent years, cables are being tightly packed with higher counts of fibres to increase bandwidth capacity and transmission speeds while maintaining a smaller footprint. As a result, typical fibre counts of 5,184, and UHCF (ultra- high-count fibre) cables of 6,912 fibres are becoming the norm. But, the higher the fibre count, the more vulnerable the fibre cable and its connections are to contamination. Connector construction and its material composition can also increase the chance of electrostatic charge problems. A good example is multi-fibre connectors. Newer 16-fibre arrays are replacing traditional 12-fibre arrays but still use the same 2.5-mm x 6.4-mm standard MT ferrule footprint. These connectors are not only denser, but they are also made from 80% glass, making the removal of dust problematic. Although glass helps improve thermal expansion control, it also retains more static than other types of connectors.

One of the best ways to combat ES buildup and remove the dust

contamination from a charged end face is to replace dry wiping with the ‘wet to dry’ cleaning method. Not only is wet to dry cleaning effective, it meets the strict industry standards upheld by industry bodies like the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and iNEMI (International Electronics


| ISSUE 30 | Q3 2022




Although the end faces passed cleanliness inspection at the factory, removing the end caps can generate static and attract contamination. Removing protective end caps is a common cause of static and dust-based contamination, so it is important to clean even brand-new fibre jumpers and connectors straight out of the pack before installation. Even testing can be a source of friction and static generation on end faces. Inserting an inspection scope, power meter, or light source can turn the contact area of the end face into a dust- magnet, attracting dust to the centre. As these inspection tools are often used many times without cleaning between uses, they are usually dirty and can readily cross-contaminate end faces. It is recommended to always clean inspection tools with a static-dissipative optical- grade cleaning fluid and wipe before use.

Manufacturing Initiative) which every technician should be encouraged to follow. FLUID ENGINEERED FOR CLEANING When carrying out the wet to dry cleaning method, a specially engineered fibre optic cleaning fluid is of paramount importance. It will quickly dissipate any static charge making it easier to wipe away end face contamination. Engineered cleaning fluid will also be ultra-fast drying, non-flammable and non-hazardous, meaning it is safe to use on any surface, safe to store and easy to transport, even by air. Look for products packaged in hermetically sealed containers as this will keep the fluid ultra-pure, regardless of the working environment. The sealed container also prevents the fluid from absorbing airborne contaminants such as moisture, microscopic dust particles, exhaust particles from traffic or pollen from plants, all of which can degrade the cleaning process.

To clean, first dampen the stick with cleaning fluid before inserting into the connector.


If the tool of choice is a cleaning stick, the same cleaning rules apply. Opt for a high-quality stick and use it with an optical-grade static-dissipating cleaning fluid. The cleaning stick should be engineered to be non-linting and fit the end face configuration without needing to disassemble the connector or adapter.


Dust contamination on fibre optical interconnects is one of the most common threats to a fibre optic network. Dust contamination is one of the primary causes of fibre network failure. Whether it’s airborne dust from dead skin, plant pollen, lint from cheap wipes or connector wear debris, it interferes with end face connections resulting in back reflection, signal attenuation, and network instability. When you add electrostatic charge into the mix the problem significantly increases. To ensure a reliable and robust network, fibre cleaning must be performed using proven tools and processes. Modern cleaning and inspecting processes, along with tools and fluids engineered specifically for fibre optic applications, should always be used to dissipate static and remove contamination. This will help ensure the fibre network maintains seamless connectivity, and performs reliably at all times.

To clean, first dampen the stick with cleaning fluid before inserting into the connector. Rotate in a clockwise direction, six to eight rotations. It is important to use one stick per end face to avoid cross-contamination.

CLICK-TO-CLEAN TOOLS Cleaning sticks are ideal for low

fibre counts or when cleaning highly contaminated end faces. If a technician is cleaning high-density fibre, a ‘click-to- clean’ tool might be the better option. Click-to-clean tools are fast, effective and engineered to clean connectors with uneven geometries. When using a click-to-clean tool, apply a small amount of cleaning fluid to a wipe first, then touch the tool to the dampened area. Finally, insert the tool into the port and push the handle until you feel and hear it fully engage. Do not spray the cleaning fluid directly onto the end face or onto the tool itself. What is important to remember with any of these cleaning tools, whether a wipe, stick or click-to-clean, is to always inspect, clean and reinspect both ends of a connector pair before mating to avoid cross- contaminating the end faces. CLEAN NEW CONNECTORS Electrostatic charges can also come from simply removing the protective caps from the new connector end faces.

Wipe the connector end face in one motion, starting at the damp area of the wipe, and move towards the dry area to remove contamination and eliminate electrostatic charge. To use the wet-to-dry cleaning process, with the fibre optic cleaning fluid. Wipe the connector end face in one motion, starting at the damp area of the wipe, and moving towards the dry area. This removes any contamination and eliminates any electrostatic charge. It is important to choose your cleaning wipe carefully. Check that it is a high- grade, lint-free fabric wipe. Although a less expensive, lower-quality paper wipe may make sense when it comes to your budget, it is counterproductive. Lower-quality wipes can tear easily, leaving debris behind. Also, paper wipes generate the high static charges which trap and lock the contaminants onto the end faces.

Liam Taylor, European Business Manager, Fibre Optics, MicroCare UK Ltd.

He is also a member of the IEC/SC 86B Working Group 4. MicroCare

manufactures the Sticklers™ brand of specialist fibre cleaning tools. For more information, visit www.microcare.com.



ISSUE 30 | Q3 2022


The pluggable coherent module market is a growing one in response to different connectivity demands. Antony Savvas takes a look at industry developments and why they are happening. A FAST DEVELOPING MARKET COHERENT PLUGGABLES:

I ndustry research firm Cignal AI recently updated its numbers for coherent port shipments. It says that shipments of 400ZR/ ZR+ modules “surged” in the last quarter of 2021, as Cisco unit Acacia and Marvell rapidly scaled production capacity. However, it finds that demand from cloud operators is still exceeding supply, which is set to be increased this year as vendors such as Ciena, Neophotonics and II-VI grow production. Cignal AI expects that shipments of 400ZR/ZR+ modules “will triple” in 2022 as cloud operators such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google are joined by traditional network operators, “such as AT&T, Windstream and COLT”, in rolling out high volume deployments. “Both web scale and telco operators are making fundamental changes to their network architectures due to the availability of pluggable 400G coherent modules,” says Scott Wilkinson, lead optical component analyst at Cignal AI. “Module shipments are ramping up quickly.” TWO FAMILIES Helen Xenos, senior director at Ciena, says there are two distinct families of leading coherent technologies available today, performance-optimised 800Gb/s embedded solutions and

Outposts services, and Google and Microsoft have strategies and products that are very similar. In this context, edge computing poses a few problems for telecom providers, as they must manage hundreds or thousands of new nodes that will be hard to control and maintain.” But Effect Photonics confirms that “cost-effective and fit-for-purpose” coherent solutions for edge connectivity are now widely available to help. Tracey Vanik, head of photonics research at EPIC (the European Photonics Industry Consortium), says of the needs of the edge, “400ZR coherent transceivers are expanding into additional applications beyond 400Gbs. Core and data centres will require even higher speeds of 800Gbps and above. And as the core grows, tributaries will be able to increase their capacity. Aggregates of 10Gbps at the edge are no longer adequate and use too many systems. II-VI and ADVA, for instance, recognised this and recently announced a coherent 100Gbs transceiver for the optical edge.” She adds, “Operating at only 5 Watts, Adva’s new 100ZR transceiver for metro and edge networks is poised to offer a higher bandwidth option to traditional 10G Ethernet connections for metro, edge and larger enterprise networks. Additionally, these 100Gbps coherent

footprint-optimised 400Gb/s coherent pluggables. “Depending on their network architecture, we expect operators to gravitate to whichever coherent technology provides lowest total cost of ownership. This often means the use of different types of coherent technology in different parts of their network. Offered in industry-standard form factors, coherent pluggables deliver dramatic space and power efficiency improvements, and open the door to new converged IP/optical architectures. “The pace of innovation with coherent technology is remarkable,” says Xenos. “Today, one of our pluggables supports the same capacity, but offers better performance using only a fifth of the power and a tenth of the space, when compared to products five years ago.” EDGE Effect Photonics points out that smaller data centres deployed locally at the edge have the potential to minimise latency, overcome inconsistent connections, and store and compute data closer to the end-user. It says these drivers are leading hyperscalers to cooperate with telecom operators to install their servers in the existing carrier infrastructure. “For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is implementing its edge technology in carrier networks and company premises, such as its AWS Wavelength and AWS


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He also points out that Acacia is releasing a pluggable version of its 5nm 140Gbaud Jannu transceiver early next year. This transceiver will deliver 800G wavelengths with 50% better reach than current 400G wavelengths based on ZR+. “This double capacity and extended reach opens the door to 800G transport for all metro applications,” Homa says. FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS Serge Melle, head of optical networks product marketing at Nokia, sees plenty of opportunities for new growth in the field. “We definitely see ever-greater application optimisation for coherent transport optics. Today, with fifth generation optics, we have application optimisation between super-coherent optics, designed for maximum capacity- reach over thousands of kilometres and more, and, concurrently, 400G pluggable coherent optics used in transport and packet platforms,” says Melle. Fundamentally, he says, it is how these application-optimised coherent optics are used as complete IP and optical- managed networking solutions, that will potentially unlock value for network operators. “There is lots of activity in the coherent market these days, and the II-VI and Coherent merger, whose company re-naming to Coherent may have been a wise naming choice, highlights further expansion of application-optimised coherent optics to the network edge,” adds Melle. At the other end of the spectrum are new developments in super-coherent optics for high-performance core, long-haul and subsea applications, he says. “We will soon see multi-terabit coherent solutions that reach the practical Shannon Limit in terms of capacity, reach and spectral efficiency, and which continue to drive progress around an economic Shannon Limit. What’s really interesting to see today is new technologies like continuous baud rate adjustment in super-coherent optics, one of the enablers for scaling wavelength capacity to 400G over trans- oceanic distances, for instance.” With all this activity across the cloud, data centres, the edge and the core, it’s clear there is plenty more to come in the pluggable coherent market.

manager, says, “Coherent pluggable optics has very quickly become one of the most competitive ecosystems in the industry. At the moment, there are four very different types of vendors competing for volume. These include suppliers coming from the IC (integrated circuit) space, Tier 1 optical component players, traditional NEM’s (network equipment manufacturers) and client optic pluggable specialists “These four types bring a unique set of capabilities and IP to the table. Who wins is anything but certain.” He says 400G ZR has transitioned into a volume production phase as several customers are ramping up or have already ramped up significant capacity. Cost pressures continue to be a driver but are more complex than just capital costs. Issues such as throughput, factory floor utilisation and equipment up-time at scale are “major concerns”. “In terms of optical testing, pluggable optics are significantly more complicated than they are sometimes given credit for. It is much more than a simple go-no- go in manufacturing. These devices are very small systems that require some degree of trim, tuning or calibration. This can result in a heavy optical test load if vendors are not careful up front. The software control interfaces and telemetry capabilities are also very deep and if underestimated can cause real issues if not properly vetted,” Adams says. DISAGGREGATION 400G ZR+ OpenROADM pluggables in the CFP2-DCO form factor are now available, and, “significantly”, they enable network operators to engineer disaggregated solutions, with transponders from multiple vendors inter-working with each other, says Jonathan Homa, Ribbon senior director of solutions marketing. Homa says, “400G ZR+ performance

transceivers will also serve the ever- increasing data demands of cellular 5G networks.” Rob Shore, senior vice president of marketing at Infinera, says of the new optical areas that have to be addressed, “There have been substantial developments in coherent technology enabling high-power optical solutions in very small packages. This enables potential deployment in a much wider variety of applications, including all the way to the network edge, and supporting a wider variety of networking equipment including routers, switches, and servers.” Shore comments, “The biggest challenge network operators face is how to effectively operationalise coherent optics in all these new network scenarios. One of the primary focuses of the Open XR Forum is to develop a standardised method of seamlessly operating and managing these optical engines in a wider variety of network scenarios, without losing any of the visibility, reliability or performance of traditional optical networking.” Indeed, the industry’s Open XR Forum has recently released a specification for managing coherent pluggables. APPLICATIONS Ciena’s Xenos said network providers are deploying coherent pluggables in three main applications. First, she says, the leading, high-volume application for 400G coherent pluggables is high bandwidth data centre interconnects over short reach 80-100km links. Secondly, beyond metro DCI, service providers with moderate capacity needs (≤400G per wavelength) are evolving their optical transport networks with coherent pluggables to realise the cost reduction/sustainability benefits of the new technology. Lastly, coherent pluggables also have an important role to play in next gen metro and edge architectures, she confirms, to support enterprises increasingly moving workloads to the cloud; consumers requiring reliable, high bandwidth speeds to the home; and those mobile networks enabling new AI-driven applications. COMPETITION AND CHALLENGES Test and measurement firm VIAVI Solutions says there is plenty of competition in the market. Matt Adams, VIAVI Solutions senior product line

currently available in CFP2-DCO pluggables will be available early

next year in much smaller QSFP-DD pluggables, at roughly one quarter the size.” This is “disruptive”, he says, because it facilitates 0dBM IPoDWDM applications, where coherent pluggables are integrated directly into routers for use over ROADM networks. These QSFF- DD pluggables will also enable more compact optical transport platforms.

Scott Wilkinson Lead optical component analyst, Cignal AI

Helen Xenos Senior director, Ciena

Jonathan Homa Senior director , Solutions Marketing, Ribbon

Tracey Vanik Head of photonics research, EPIC.

Rob Shore SVP marketing, Infinera.

Matt Adams Senior product line manager, VIAVI Solutions.

Serge Melle Head of optical networks product marketing, Nokia


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ISSUE 30 | Q3 2022



While much of the industry’s attention has focused on coherent optical engine evolution, with embedded engines now able to deliver 800 Gbps and compact pluggables able to deliver 400 Gbps, the DWDM line systems that carry these wavelengths have also been evolving, writes Paul Momtahan , director, Product Solutions Marketing at Infinera.

K ey drivers for this evolution include maximising the capacity-reach of the coherent optical engines, enabling open optical networking, and minimising total cost of ownership (TCO). Line system innovation occurs at the component level: wavelength- selective switch (WSS), amplifier, multicast switch, optical channel monitor (OCM), optical supervisory channel (OSC), optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR), etc. It also occurs at the systems level: shelf form factor, module form factor, link control software, management interfaces, etc. Considering both these types, here are my top five areas of line system innovation: 1: WSS INNOVATION ROADMs leverage WSS technology and are the primary type of line system for many applications, including metro, long-haul, and submarine line termination equipment (SLTE). While early ROADMs leveraged wavelength blocker and planar lightwave circuit technologies, the main WSS technologies today are microelectromechanical systems mirrors, including digital light processing (DLP), liquid crystal (LC), and liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS). Lower port counts typically leverage lower-cost DLP or LC technology, while higher port counts typically use the

Performance is improving with better cascadeability, enabling more WSSs in the wavelength path, as filter narrowing penalties have been reduced with a squarer passband shape. WSS footprint has shrunk dramatically, especially with the advent of edge-optimised (i.e., 1×4) WSSs. Twin WSSs have shrunk the required footprint for route-and-select ROADMs. Dynamic gain equalisers (DGE) leveraging WSS technology are also enabling extended reach when integrated with in- line amplifiers (ILAs) in long haul networks. In addition to the evolution of the WSS components, the form factor for ROADMs has evolved. The original form factor for ROADMs was individual modules for each component of a ROADM degree, shown in Figure 1. This has advantages in terms of

more expensive LCoS technology. WSSs have also evolved in terms of number of ports, from 1×2 to 1×30+, evolving to even higher port counts (48, 60, etc.) in the future. The amount of C-band spectrum has increased from 3,200 GHz to 4,800 GHz. Recent enhancements include 6,000 GHz in the C-band and 9,600 GHz with C+L-band, which itself is evolving from separate WSSs to a single C+L WSS. Contentioned and contentionless MxN WSSs have emerged to enable scalable colourless-directionless and colourless- directionless-contentionless add/drop. Channel spacing moved from 100 GHz to 50 GHz to flexible grid, first with 12.5 GHz and then 6.25 GHz granularity, with 3.125 GHz granularity becoming a requirement for SLTE applications.

Figure 1: Key components of a ROADM-based line system


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SFP-based OTDRs have provided a more compact but single-fibre alternative to higher-performance OTDR form factors that support multiple fibres via an optical switch. SFPs are now available that integrate the OSC and OTDR, with the SFP acting as an OSC until there is a fibre cut then switching to an “out-of-service” OTDR. Coherent OTDRs are another recent innovation. While traditional OTDRs can measure loss, coherent OTDRs can also measure parameters such as chromatic dispersion, polarisation mode dispersion, and state-of-polarisation changes. And with the ability to pass through amplifiers, they can be used to monitor the entire length of a repeatered transoceanic fibre. Other potential applications for coherent OTDRs include pre-warning of terrestrial fibre cuts based on vibrations from construction activity and submarine monitoring of seismic activity. As another example, OCMs provide the ability to monitor the power level of each wavelength. This information can then be used by the link control to attenuate each wavelength with WSSs at ROADM sites or DGEs at ILA sites to optimise the power level of each wavelength. OCMs can also be used to troubleshoot the network. Recent innovations include flexible-grid OCMs and higher-resolution coherent OCMs. Coherent OCMs offer sub-GHz accuracy and highly accurate power monitoring of fine spectral slices independent of adjacent channel power. They reduce C-band scanning time from seconds to hundreds of milliseconds, and they provide advanced processing of spectral characteristics, such as valid channel detection, center wavelength, and optical signal-to-noise ratio. As a final example, the OSC provides a communication channel between adjacent nodes that can be used for functions including link control, in-band management, control plane (i.e., ASON/ GMPLS), and span loss measurement. OSC data rates have evolved from ~2 Mbps to ~100-155 Mbps, and more recently to 1 Gbps. The location of the OSC has moved from the shelf controller to the ROADM card, and more recently to SFP pluggables that also enable different flavors of OSC that meet specific application and interoperability requirements.

Figure 2: Open line system

are now able to provide full line system functionality including ROADM, in addition to a wide range of other functions (i.e., transponder/muxponder) in self-contained sleds. In terms of line system footprint, we have gone from around 6RU per ROADM degree for long-haul and 3RU per ROADM degree for metro in the 2005-2010 timeframe to two ROADM degrees in 1RU with modern 600-mm compact modular platforms. 300-mm compact modular is the next evolution. An additional aspect of this platform evolution is from application- specific platforms to a single common platform that can support applications from metro edge through metro core to long-haul and SLTE. 4: OPEN LINE SYSTEMS With benefits that include accelerated innovation, optimised networks, and transformed economics, open optical networking is being embraced by many network operators. Line systems are therefore becoming more open, with integrated OCMs, WSS-based attenuation, and alien wavelength-friendly link control simplifying support for third- party wavelengths, while flexible-grid capabilities provide a path to spectrum services. Management interfaces such as TL1 and SNMP are evolving to open APIs (NETCONF, RESTCONF, gRPC, gNMI, etc.) with standardised data models (Open ROADM MSA, OpenConfig). The Open ROADM MSA has also provided standards for line interoperability between metro ROADMs from different vendors, with specifications covering the SDN domain controller, link control, power levels, laser safety, performance monitoring, fault detection, and OSC. 5: ENHANCED OPERATIONS AND MANAGEABILITY A number of innovations address the need for reduced operational costs and enhanced manageability. For example, an OTDR transmits pulses of light into the fibre under testing and then analyses the light that is returned through scattering and reflections. Use cases include identifying the location of fibre cuts, detecting increased fibre loss, and intrusion detection. Integrated OTDR started to appear as a ROADM option around 2015. More recently,

being able to mix and match from a wide range of amplifiers, but it typically results in a high footprint as well as more complex installation, with the need to correctly cable all these modules together. An alternative approach called “ROADM-on-a- blade” emerged around 2007, with all the components required for a ROADM degree (WSS, input amplifier, output amplifier, OCM, OSC, etc.) in a single module. A third alternative that emerged in 2015, originally purely for fixed WDM with WSS coming later, was putting the individual line system components into compact optical layer pluggables. 2: AMPLIFIER INNOVATION Amplifiers have evolved in terms of the amount of gain they can deliver. One key contributing factor to this higher gain is the adoption of integrated ROADM- on-a-blade architectures with internal connections to the amplifiers, allowing higher power levels. They have also improved in terms of the amplified spontaneous emission noise added for a given gain. Another evolution has been from fixed-gain amplifiers to variable-gain amplifiers. Variable-gain amplifiers typically cover a specific span loss range, with at least three types required (e.g., 0-18 dB, 14-25 dB, 22-35 dB). This later evolved to switchable-gain amplifiers with a single part number able to cover a very wide span loss range (i.e., 0-32 dB). In addition, there has been a trend toward hybrid amplification combining erbium-doped fibre amplification (EDFA) with Raman to reduce noise. A final amplifier innovation is the recent availability of hardened (i.e., -40°C to + 65°C) EDFAs, simplifying the deployment of amplified DWDM in network facilities that lack temperature control, for example, in metro edge networks and some specific long-haul environments (e.g., ILAs in the desert). 3: COMPACT MODULAR Line system platforms have evolved from traditional chassis-based transport systems with sub-300-mm depth and side-to- side airflow. The first evolution was from large (12+ RU) to more compact (~5RU) chassis circa 2007, around the same time as ROADM-on-a-blade. 600-mm-deep compact modular platforms with front-to- back airflow were launched in 2015 and


These innovations are providing network operators with a number of key benefits including enhanced coherent optical engine capacity-reach, increased fibre capacity, greater degree and add/drop flexibility, reduced footprint, higher network availability, lower operational costs, and the accelerated innovation of open optical networking. Together, these benefits are enabling network operators to significantly reduce their optical network TCO.



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