Bringing the World the Latest in Optical Communications News
ISSUE 32 | Q1 2023
EUROPEAN FTTH/B ROLLOUT: Vincent Garnier Q&A | p14 GOING GREEN: Towards a sustainable industry | p8
DISAGGREGATED PON Open networking | p20
EPIC CEO INTERVIEW: Philippe Babin | p24
NEW NOKIA PSE ADTRAN’SACCESS PLATFORM AERIAL FIBRE SENSING
Media Partners to
Going Green Peter Dykes 10 Optics in the Data Centre Tony Savvas 14 FTTH European Rollout Peter Dykes 16 Beyond 800G John Williamson 18 Clean Up Your Fibre… Rick Homan 20 Disaggregated PON Peter Dykes 22 FTTX & Data Centre Trends Riechle & De-Massari 24 EPIC CEO Interview Philippe Babin 26 Optical Connections Webinars 28 TOP Conference Wrap Peter Dykes 29 OFC Preview 30 FTTH Europe Preview 32 AngaCom Preview 34 Product Focus
TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE FIBRE OPTIC INDUSTRY Welcome to the spring edition of Optical Connections magazine. With global warming on most people’s minds these days, we take a look at what efforts some companies are making to reduce their carbon footprint, and how carbon reduction can be meaningfully evaluated. This will be followed up with a webinar at the end of March on the same subject featuring expert speakers and an in-depth discussion of this vital topic. Also looking to the future is Antony Savvas who writes that when it comes to building efficient networks inside data centres and better ones for connecting them to other sites, improved optics are key. The role of optics for ramping up data speeds is also important, and John Williamson writes that with traffic volumes, data densities and pressures on service provider costs continuing to ramp up, the attractions of 800G and beyond optical networking have become compelling for many different areas of application. Disaggregation is another hot topic at the moment and we spoke to the Open Networking Foundation’s general manager Timon Sloane about ONF’s SEBA and VOTHA projects aimed at bringing disaggregation to passive optical networks. Looking at future trends, REICHLE & DE-MASSARI’s Christen Hermann and Daniel Eigenmann examine how as wireless and wired connectivity continue to merge, utilising a fibre backbone, service providers will keep looking for ways of reducing operating costs by reusing infrastructure in smart ways. And finally, with the 2023 conference and expo season now in full swing, we spoke with FTTH Council Europe’s Director General Vincent Garnier, ahead of the FTTH Conference to look at the state of FTTH rollout across the continent. And don’t forget! Optical Connections readers can save 20% on the cost of entry to the FTTH Conference by using the discount code on page 30. Peter Dykes Contributing Editor
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ISSUE 32 | Q1 2023
Nokia’s PSE-6s offers 60% network power cut
Nokia has launched its sixth generation Photonic Service Engine (PSE), which the company says is capable of reducing network power consumption by 60%. The PSE-6s supports a chip-to- chip interface that enables it to be deployed in pairs to power 2.4Tbps coherent line cards. This allows network operators to transport any combination of high-speed client services including 400GE and 800GE across metro, long-haul and subsea networks. With a three-fold increase in performance, PSE-6s -enabled platforms
support transport of 800GE ultra-high-speed services in metro and datacentre interconnect (DCI) applications, and with reach of 2,000 km and beyond, across long-haul networks and trans-oceanic cables. PSE-6s integrates the latest generation of 5nm coherent digital signal processors (DSPs) with Nokia’s CSTAR silicon photonics, powering the next generation of coherent transport technology operating at 130Gbaud and more, supporting up to 1.2Tbps of capacity per wavelength.
It also offers an upgrade path for network operators, allowing them to upgrade their networks to PSE-6s across the 1830 family of optical networking platforms including PSS, PSI-M and PSS-x, and over existing ITU-T WDM channel plans. Serge Melle, Director, IP- Optical Product Marketing at Nokia told Optical Connections, “One of the things that’s unique to Nokia’s 5nm generation is the continuously tuneable baud rate. What that essentially means is that on any given link, whether it’s a
200 kilometre regional link or a subsea cable, we can tune the spectrum used by the coherent optics or the number of bits transmitted to essentially be the highest possible combination of the two. That allows the maximum capacity to be extracted on a given optical fibre, and compared to some solutions that have a more discreet kind of adjustment, it ensures that with optimisation over any distance and for any bitrate, you get the best performance
without leaving some capability on the table.”
Adtran debuts scalable fibre access platform
Coherent debuts ultracompact optical amplifier components
Adtran® Inc., has launched its SDX 6330 10Gbps, an open and disaggregated Combo PON fibre access platform, with integrated 400Gbps uplinks. The SDX 6330 is Adtran’s third generation of open and disaggregated OLT devices. With 48 ports of Combo PON in a compact and power- efficient design, Adtran says it sets a new benchmark for lowering the total cost of deployment for 10Gbps services. Designed to deliver network simplicity and sustainability at scale, the solution offers deployment versatility and improved reach. Featuring open interfaces, it provides freedom to build best-in- class infrastructure with
technology from multiple vendors, and its versatile architecture supports a wide range of network topologies and coherent optics. The SDX 6330 also helps meet corporate sustainability objectives by reducing power demand and landfill requirements. “Our SDX 6330 is the most advanced fibre access platform in the industry, and the impact it’s about to have will be significant. By empowering service providers to reduce both the time and cost of getting people connected, we’re going to see broadband coverage increase like never before,” commented Ronan Kelly, CTO for EMEA and APAC at Adtran.
Coherent Corp has debuted a portfolio of smaller ultracompact components that enable optical amplifiers embedded in next-generation high-speed telecom transceivers and in LiDAR subsystems including a micro-pump laser, a variable optical attenuator, and hybrid passive assemblies, all with a very low profile of less than 2.5 mm. “We have achieved a level of miniaturization that is unmatched in the industry with a complete set of components that enable optical amplifiers to be easily embedded in small modules such as pluggable high-speed transceivers, in the very small
QSFP-DD form factor, and miniature automotive LiDAR systems,” said Dr. Sanjai Parthasarathi, Chief Marketing Officer. “Leveraging highly automated assembly, these components will scale cost- competitively with the rapidly growing demand.” The components are available individually and as custom assemblies, including with erbium- and erbium/ ytterbium-doped fibre from Coherent. They come in standard or extended temperature ranges, and with bend-insensitive fibre input and output on a single side. The micro-pump laser is available with an output power of up to 400 mW.
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Next-gen transceivers worth US$15.9bn in 2028
Communications Industry Researchers (CIR) has issued Next Generation Transceivers Markets: 2022-2028, a new report which predicts next- generation transceivers will generate US$15.9 billion by 2028 compared to US$850 Million in 2023 as 800G speeds and above move into the mainstream. It says that embedding new approaches– such as coherent optics, co-packaged optics, and more efficient designs—next generation transceivers will be better suited to the needs of the network as demand increases and applications
become more latency sensitive. The report also finds: • Data rate requirements for optical transceivers will grow rapidly as Internet and 5G/6G users increase and latency-sensitive traffic from AI, machine learning (ML), Internet-of-things (IoT) and virtual reality traffic proliferate. Transceiver makers are responding to bandwidth challenges by introducing coherent transceivers throughout the network, even the access segment (Coherent PONs). By 2028, CIR says that
coherent transceivers will rack up almost US$4 Billion in revenue. Nonetheless, transceivers will eventually migrate towards co- package optics as well as engineer a new range of transceivers for edge data centres • PON transceiver markets are about to grow. New transceivers will be required
transceivers will clock up US$300 million in revenues by 2028 • Transceiver supply chains will simplify considerably in the next few years. It is unlikely that the two- tier pricing structure for transceivers will survive as links in the supply chain consolidate. Expect the role of distributors to decline, while OEMs play a growing role in transceiver manufacturing. This latter trend will help cope with the increasing unreliability of China as a transceiver source.
to support “Combo” PONs and “Coherent PONs,” which are PON networks that can carry traffic from many kinds of PON infrastructure. Next-generation PON
ISSUE 32 | Q1 2023
Pilot Photonics demo’s widely tuneable laser
América Móvil, Telxius, to build next-gen subsea cable
Pilot Photonics has announced the availability of a widely tuneable laser module. The company says it is the only commercially available tuneable laser that offers the combination of nanosecond switching and narrow linewidth, solving a long-running challenge in the industry. Pilot Photonics’ laser is based on a monolithic InP chip fabricated on an active-passive platform. Electro-optic tuning with reverse-voltage bias of tuning sections allows mA-order dark currents and facilitates nanosecond switching speeds with low power dissipation. It offers more than 30nm of wavelength tuning range in either the C-band or the O-band, and linewidth of 150kHz. Currently available in 14-pin butterfly package or integrated into an OEM or laboratory instrument form-
factor module, the company is also developing a nano- iTLA module for high volume applications Pilot says widely tuneable semiconductor lasers can typically offer narrow linewidth, or fast tuning, but not both. In optical fibre sensing systems, electronically tuneable lasers have traditionally been used for their fast tunability over a wide tuning range which is achieved using a current injection tuning mechanism. However, these lasers exhibit linewidths that are unsuitable for demanding phase sensitive applications such as coherent optical communication and frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) LiDAR. Changing to a thermal tuning mechanism reduces the linewidth, but at the expense of switching speed which renders the laser unsuitable for some of these applications.
Latin American service provider América Móvil and infrastructure provider Telxius have announced the deployment of a new ultra-high-capacity subsea cable to link Guatemala and the United States, as part of the ongoing commitment of the two largest telecommunication groups in Latin America to improve global communications. Named AMX3 by América Móvil and Tikal by Telxius, the subsea cable will be the highest capacity undersea cable to connect Puerto
The supply contract is already in force with Alcatel Submarine Networks and provides options to increase capacity and to incorporate additional branching units to serve other destinations. Tikal is the seventh new next-generation cable to complete its network since 2018 in addition to Brusa, Mistral, Tannat, Junior, Marea and Dunant. This means a multi-terabit, robust set of new next- generation subsea cables fully serving the Americas and Europe while enhancing Telxius traditional routes. Overall, Telxius will feature a 82,000 km network that has been designed to connect the main digital data hubs on both sides of the Atlantic. The cable is expected to go live in 2025.
Barrios in Guatemala, with Boca Raton in the US, with an additional
possible landing in Cancun (Mexico). Featuring an initial estimated capacity of 190 Tbps, the cable will serve a key route in the Caribbean.
Researchers perform aerial sensing over 524km
In a new field trial, researchers have shown that a real-time coherent transceiver prototype can be used for continuous sensing over a 524km live network aerial fibre wound around high-voltage power cables suspended from outdoor poles. In the new work, the researchers used a field-programmable gate array coherent transceiver sensing prototype for continuous fibre sensing by using information extracted from the coherent DSP. They used the DSP-based timing recovery module as a time- of-flight sensor. Using this approach, the researchers continuously monitored a
524-km length of aerial fibre for 70 hours using time- of-flight measurements. They correlated the sensing measurements with temperatures acquired from stations along the network link. The analysis revealed strong oscillations driven by polarisation changes over 50Hz, likely from the Faraday effect induced by the spun fibre. They demonstrated polarisation sensing of various wind conditions by filtering out the low-frequency portion of these polarisation changes. The results show that coherent transceivers could potentially be used to perform continuous sensing
over aerial fibres, making it possible to perform both environmental and network sensing using existing aerial fibres. Researchers say that by monitoring polarisation changes in the light traveling through a fibre link, this approach could enable new environmental or current sensing types. It can also be used to improve network integrity by continuously monitoring the health of the fibre link, for example, by detecting increases in fibre length that might indicate a pole is starting to tilt. Nokia Bell Labs’ Mikael Mazur, who will present the new findings at OFC
commented, “Optical fibres are everywhere, and if we can expand the use of this infrastructure to create a dense worldwide spanning mesh of environmental sensors, these communication systems can play an even bigger role in our daily life. Sensing transceivers can prevent service interruption and improve our understanding of the environment by significantly scaling the number of sensors without the cost of a dedicated sensing system. Most importantly, this can be done without any loss in data throughput, enabling full use of the communication system for its intended purpose.”
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Advanced PLC Manufacturer ENSURE notes recent heightened demand for their specialised chip customisation. ‘Customisation’ - The latest buzzword around acquiring the perfect model for your FTTx architecture.
With 20+ years’ experience, as a leader in the photonics industry for crafting best- in-class optical solutions for some of the world’s most renowned operators and ISP’s, including Telefonica, Vodafone, Altice, Antel, DS Telecom and more; in recent years, Advanced PLC Manufacturer ENSURE developed a new offering in order to stand out amongst the crowd. Due to the advantageous attributes of the PLC splitter, such as uniform & multiple splitting, compact size, and resultant cost saving benefits, it’s no surprise that for companies such as ENSURE, the PLC splitter has a rockstar reputation for being their most coveted PLC component for the FTTx industry. Lee Jin, the company’s R&D Director divulges however, that “the real superpower lies within the core component of the PLC splitter chip ”. Jin goes on to explain how having the “ability to curate customised split ratios, as opposed to the standard splits available, enables us to dramatically optimise the performance for our key account client’s varying architectures”. So why aren’t all PLC manufacturers providing this service? The answer lies in a company’s capability for full industrial chain- manufacturing. Having built their premium reputation for meticulously controlling the
entire production chain, manufacturing in- house wafers, chips, FA arrays, ferrules and Grade B Connectors etc. Ensure utilised their R&D department, (proficient in developing innovative connectivity solutions), in order to perfect their ability to curate tailor-made designs for customisation of specialised PLC chips. Whether providing uneven split ratios, custom splits or consolidating different single chips into a one-piece chip, the company has seen demand for this functionality grow immensely as high-speed data and telecommunication fiberoptic networks continue to grow at breakneck speed. With high demand and limited capable manufacturers, comes the need for large capacity for production, spurring ENSURE’s recent investments into increased capacity for manufacturing, producing on average 1.000 wafers per month. International Business Director, Carlos Barragan, explains how “at present we are one of the few PLC wafer & chip manufacturers with the advanced technology and equipment required to do such specialised customisations. Given our years’ experience and dedication to providing premium quality, when it comes to scaling up operations based on market or customer demands, we’re always ready to produce the necessary capacity and quality
required to advance our client’s networks exponentially” - and advance it does!
The nature of the customised chip design gives the advantage not only to the manufacturer, but to their clients too. For example, take a 1x17 Asymmetric PLC splitter with special ratios to be used for an FTTH project using Daisy Chain architecture design. The exclusivity of the design and product give producer and client the first-mover advantage with an optimised bespoke design that competitors in the market do not have access to, or the ability to copy in a timely manner. It’s no surprise then that Connectivity Solutions provider ENSURE, in addition to their current 55 patents, is in the process of patenting more products in the market, safekeeping their innovative designs in order to optimise market investment, and maximise the benefit for their clients. In an industry that is forever advancing, innovating, and pushing boundaries in order to facilitate the digital infrastructure revolution, key players such as ENSURE stress the importance for innovative vision and quality execution to help propel digital advancement further. With plans to advance their product portfolio, production, capacity, sustainability, and global reach facing 2024, Barragan assures us, “the best is still to come”.
ISSUE 32 | Q1 2023
PETER DYKES SUSTAINABILITY
TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE INDUSTRY GOING GREEN:
Making fibre optic communications sustainable is vital to reducing the industry’s contribution to the reduction of global carbon emissions. The opportunities for carbon reduction across the industry are myriad, including supply chain management to component development and the switch to renewable energy, to name but a few. Peter Dykes looks at three examples of how some companies are approaching the challenge to become more sustainable, and how best to measure progress.
I t is generally accepted that the use of fibre optics is inherently more environmentally friendly than other network technologies for a variety of reasons, but we need to fully exploit the properties of the medium, argues Kelvin Hagebeuk, Marketing Manager for Test and Measurement at Yokogawa Europe. He says, “The world is facing many sustainability challenges, with climate change requiring us to make more efficient use of energy that is produced from greener sources. As a leading supplier of test equipment, Yokogawa knows that the Test and Measurement industry can help make the difference we all need to see. An example is the growing use of data from the Internet of Things, in cloud computing services, video broadcasting and conferencing, and the rise in access to mobile broadband - the Royal Society has estimated that digital technologies could be responsible for nearly 6% of greenhouse gas emissions. To avoid building more network infrastructure, which leads to more emissions in production and installation, we need to make better use of the fiber network we already have.” This, he explains, means getting more data through each ‘pipe’, using DWDM in which channels become ever more closely spaced. This makes it more difficult to separate the individual channels in the WDM analysis on an Optical Spectrum Analyzer or OSA. “To meet this need, Yokogawa has produced a new range of OSAs with
Combined with our high-speed data acquisition instruments such as the DL950 ScopeCorder, developers have a complete solution to evaluate the efficiency and performance of new and existing power technologies.” He says that developers of these systems also need a supplier that can integrate best- in-class hardware with advanced software solutions. Yokogawa’s experience of power measurements for transport and renewable sources such as wind turbines has led to the development of an integrated measurement platform that makes it easier to see results from different instruments. “This solutions experience is now benefitting power technologies used in telecommunications, helping developers improve their efficiency and performance,” he concludes. TOWARDS 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY On the subject of renewable energy, Coherent launched a major renewable electricity procurement program approximately three years ago as part of its commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its manufacturing operations. The company has sourced renewable electricity for dozens of its facilities worldwide at every level of its vertically integrated, global manufacturing base. For example, when a customer purchases a ROADM product from Coherent, all of the following manufacturing operations
unprecedented resolution, down to 5 picometers (pm), allowing optical signals in close proximity to be clearly separated and accurately measured. With a wavelength range of 1200 to 1650 nm, as well as the ability to alter the wavelength resolution from 5 pm to 2 nm, the new OSA can support a wide range of applications, from narrowband peak/notch measurements to wideband spectral measurements,” he says. But there’s more to be done. “As well as making their telecom systems more efficient by boosting data capacity, telecom operators are also looking to improve their environmental credentials by using renewable energy sources to power networks and data centres. Transport is also moving to electric power, which is increasingly generated from renewable sources and Yokogawa’s experience in providing precision measurement solutions for transport and renewable energy industries is also bringing benefits to telecoms. Yokogawa’s solutions allow our customers to expedite the development of the next generation of sustainable technology and innovation. One major challenge is that as power systems become more complex, analyzing them becomes increasingly difficult. New electric power sources such as fuel cells and high-density batteries make new demands on test and measurement equipment. Yokogawa is meeting these needs by developing Precision Power Measurement solutions.
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PETER DYKES SUSTAINABILITY
of our stakeholders – customers, investors, employees, local communities, and the world at large – are counting on us to do our part to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, and Coherent is up to the challenge.” CARBON COUNTING Apart from more efficient use of fibre and the switch to sustainable energy sources, the very evolution of optical technology is having significant knock-on effects for networks and their operators. Helen Xenos, Senior Director of Portfolio Marketing at Ciena says, “There’s a lot that we can say about network sustainability, and it is a huge area of focus for us at Ciena as well as many of our customers. We’ve gone through the exercise of calculating the sustainability impacts of our coherent technology innovations and how it has helped our customers reduce greenhouse gases.” She explains, “For example, we calculated the impact of the power and space efficiencies that have been achieved with each successive WaveLogic generation that we’ve introduced over the past 10 years, which has led to a reduction of 4.5 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. So, it’s pretty significant. This includes the impact of 18 months of WaveLogic 5 Extreme shipments. The reason why we are so focused on innovating from a coherent technology perspective, is that as bandwidth grows and increasing levels of capacity are deployed each year, early adoption of new technology becomes even more important, helping customers make faster progress towards their sustainability goals as they can deploy more capacity with less power and space. When you provide connectivity more efficiently, that gives you a bigger bang at the end of the day - it helps not only in reducing energy consumption, but also has the knock-on effect of reducing cooling and leasing costs– you can see how the benefits quickly add up.” SEEING THE BIG PICTURE Obviously, different sectors of the industry will approach sustainability issues in specific ways, according to their place in
the ecosystem and ways of measuring the success of their initiatives, meaning that it’s difficult to evaluate the carbon footprint of the industry as a whole. In an attempt to arrive at an overall picture of view of how the industry is performing, in Europe at least, the FTTH Council Europe is working on a plan to provide a common method of reporting across the fibre ecosystem. Vincent Garnier, Director General, FTTH Council Europe explains, “We are starting a programme to help our members report their carbon footprint metrics and performance on the basis of comparable metrics. We would like to say, should you be a software vendor, a cable manufacturer or manufacturer of passive or active electronic equipment, a contractor, builder or an operator, we offer you the possibility to align on the way you report your carbon footprint. What we want to do is help all categories of player to talk together and be able to check and report on the progress of our industry holistically as we move forward. It’s ambitious, but I think if we don’t have common way of presenting our reports, we’re not going anywhere.” He adds, “I know that some legislation at a higher level than purely our industry is also moving in that direction and that at some point, we will certainly be obliged to report for every organisation’s carbon footprint performance. There will be a standard, in exactly the same way you have accounting standard to report on your financial situation. We are taking this step to help and also to make sure that every single member of the Council is aware of this matter. It’s a very concrete step towards helping the industry progress with a lower carbon footprint.” Garnier points out, “Carbon footprint is not only what you do yourself, but also what you generate indirectly, so you need to understand what is the carbon footprint of your supplier to be able to measure your own carbon footprint. By connecting people, we hope to also give to everyone the possibility to have a more accurate understanding of the real footprint because we will have possibility to integrate a more accurate carbon footprint measurement of all partners in the value chain.”
are now powered with 100% renewable electricity: • Semiconductor lasers (Switzerland) • Thermoelectric coolers (Texas) • Tunable optical filters (Massachusetts) • Wavelength selective switches (WSS) (California) • Wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) filters (California) • Optical components (Vietnam) • Pump laser subassemblies (the Philippines) • Pump laser packaging and optical assembly (China) Richard Marino, Director of Sustainability, Coherent explains, “We are on track to have 100% renewable electricity for all of our operations in the Networking Segment of Coherent by 2025, approximately 273 million kWh per year. This includes our factories as well as our smaller locations for engineering, R&D, and sales offices. All Coherent sites, large and small, are included in this effort. This represents a very significant reduction of our environmental footprint, given that electricity usage accounts for about 90% of our total Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions.” He continues, “In addition to renewable energy contracts, we have installed an on-site solar energy system at our facility in Vietnam, and we are evaluating similar installations at other locations. Our engineering and facilities teams have achieved a cumulative energy savings of 10 million kWh per year through numerous energy efficiency projects. Our manufacturing and quality teams drive yield improvements on the production line that also correspond to reduced energy usage per unit produced, estimated at an additional 4 million kWh per year of energy savings.” On future developments, Marino says, “We will be partnering with our suppliers to drive similar carbon reduction programs in our supply chain, starting in 2023. We are excited that several of our supply chain partners already have carbon reduction programs underway, and we want to recognise and reward their progress in this area. We will work with suppliers that are not as far along to initiate similar programs as we drive to decarbonise our supply chain. All
Kelvin Hagebeuk Marketing Manager, Test & Measurement, Yokogawa Europe
Richard Marino Director of Sustainability, Coherent
Helen Xenos Senior Director, Portfolio Marketing, Ciena
Vincent Garnier Director General, FTTH Council Europe
ISSUE 32 | Q1 2023
ANTONY SAVVAS DATA CENTRE DESIGN
OPTICS IN THE DATA CENTRE: THE KEY TO THE FUTURE?
When it comes to building efficient networks inside data centres and better ones for connecting them to other sites, improved optics are key. Antony Savvas looks at some of the latest developments they can potentially deliver.
CAPACITY Koji Okamoto, vice president for fibre and access business at VIAVI, says of capacity, “With data centre networks (inside and in between), there is a constant need to increase capacity and to meet the ever- increasing needs of cloud and ultra-low latency applications. This means more data centres and interconnects, and more distributed data centres will need to be built out and maintained by increasing density, with more fibres in the same space. This is done by introducing either a greater number of fibres and/or fitting more bits in the same fibre (higher speed or more lanes – wdm).” “This leads to the need to improve the efficiency of the process of building/ commissioning and maintaining/ troubleshooting data centre network environments to ensure that operations scale. As a trend this might seem manageable but there is also the challenge of not enough “fibre-knowledgeable resources”, or skills, in the market, adds Okamoto. “There is also the continuous, and sometimes ubiquitous, build-out of the network edge. With edge computing, more remote data centres and outposts, in addition to more dark fibre within collocated and multi-tenant ecosystems (including service providers), will be needed. This will “blur the lines of demarcation”, says Okamoto, leading
to the need for better maintenance and troubleshooting capabilities, to ensure quality and the rapid isolation of issues. EVOLVING ARCHITECTURES “Data centre architectures are evolving to meet demands for platform flexibility, greater bandwidth, better utilisation, higher density and more complex data,” says Manmeet Walia, director of product marketing at the Synopsys Solutions Group, which provides network design solutions. “The future of data centre network design relies on disaggregation and the broad adoption of co-packaged optics, allowing workloads to use only the resources they need. Disaggregation’s popularity has also grown because of its ability to efficiently process massive workloads needed to stream high- definition movies, play interactive online games, and gain insights from big data analytics,” Walia says. “Optical interconnects are ideal for disaggregated data centre applications because, by transmitting signals via light, they support higher bandwidth and speeds as well as lower latency and power.” As data network speeds continue to increase beyond 400Gbps, so too will the demand for faster device interface speeds and greater sensitivity to latency in data transfer, requiring more energy. This is where co-packaged optics
“Demand for data centre network bandwidth from cloud service providers, which comprise about half of the data centre switch market, is estimated to be growing at 50-60% per year. At the same time, power-per-bit is declining only at half that rate (25-30% per year),” said Sameh Boujelben, analyst and vice president for data centre switch research at Dell’Oro Group. “This means that power consumption in cloud service networks is growing at an unhealthy and unsustainable rate, and will limit service providers’ ability to move to higher speed networks.” Boujelben said optics are a big a part of the problem, as they are estimated to comprise of 50% of the power consumption at a system level with 51.2 Tbps chips, and that portion will continue to increase as we move to next generation chips, he says. “But optics are also a big part of the solution,” adds Boujelben. “Data centre architectures are evolving to accommodate AI/ML (artificial intelligence/machine learning) systems in the back end, growing faster than mainstream networking,” says Vipul Bhatt, VP of marketing for datacom vertical at Coherent. “The optical transceiver industry has kept up admirably, delivering continuous reduction in energy- per-bit and cost-per-bit. Pluggable transceivers with 200G optical lanes are in development now, with support for 200G electrical lanes expected to follow soon.”
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to get there. together.
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ISSUE 32 | Q1 2023
ANTONY SAVVAS DATA CENTRE DESIGN
can come into play, a single-package integration of electrical and photonic dies that makes miniaturisation requirements more feasible. “Hyperscale data centre applications are driving this new wave of co-packaged optics designs, to address ‘power wall’ and faceplate density limitations, by offering a way to keep rack unit power constant while increasing bandwidth capacity,” says Walia. CPO NEED? “On energy, a useful context to keep in mind is that the networking hardware, which includes optical transceivers, now consumes barely 2% of total energy in a data centre,” adds Coherent’s Bhatt. “The remaining 98% of consumption is by servers, GPUs, memory and infrastructure. This suggests that the case for co-packaged optics (CPO) should be re-examined in terms of the real needs of customers.” “All the market-success rules that apply to pluggable transceivers should apply to CPO as well – cost, yields, scalability, diversity of link types, a vibrant supplier ecosystem, and pay-as-you- grow convenience for customers. That’s why we expect pluggable transceivers to continue to thrive in the market for the foreseeable future, although some AI/ ML interconnects may benefit from the smaller footprint of CPO,” Bhatt says. Martin Vallo, senior analyst at the photonics and sensing division at Yole Intelligence, says, “In recent years we have seen high interest in integrated optics, either for pluggable modules or new co-packaged system architectures for Ethernet applications, and a new architecture enabling optical interconnects for intra-rack applications such as AI training, ML and disaggregation.” Disaggregation refers to the disintegration of the traditional server architecture to create modular, pooled resources, such as pooled microprocessors, pooled memory or pooled storage. “The optical interconnect technology both enables and limits this architecture because the links that were
previously contained on the server board must traverse an entire rack, multiple racks, or across data centres,” says Vallo. Disaggregation promises improved efficiency and data capacity for the data centre but is limited by the cost and performance of the links. “Recent progress on co-packaged optics for Ethernet indicates that main CPO proponents will delay their CPO projects due to spending cuts. It is likely their silicon photonics designs will be leveraged in future pluggable optics.” Vallo maintains the current market opportunity for optical engines remains only for AI/ML, and disaggregation. OpenLight is a newly launched, independent silicon photonics company formed by investments from Synopsys and Juniper Networks. The company introduced its open silicon photonics platform with integrated on-chip indium phosphide (InP) lasers last year. Tom Mader, chief operating officer at OpenLight, says, “Until recently, laser integration and the high cost associated with bolting on discrete lasers was a significant roadblock. But with the advent of on-chip optics and metamaterials like indium phosphide, photonic integrated circuits offer data centres the scalability and cost efficiency they need, while addressing energy efficiency and complex design needs.” He says, “Looking at the near future, network design will continue to shift towards more optics, bringing about a ‘Moore’s Law for photonics’. We’ll see this through extremely efficient voltage scaling, switches that will soon surpass 50 Tbps with 200G lanes, smaller form factors, and easier assembly through on- chip lasers at a lower cost.” Tim Vang, vice president of marketing and applications at Semtech’s signal integrity products group, says, “The integration of clock and data recovery (CDR) and laser drivers delivers lower power consumption, reduced size and scalability to 800Gbps, the data equivalent of streaming more than 200,000 movies simultaneously. In 2023,
optical technology will continue to enhance internal data centre operations to minimise power consumption, cost and latency, while improving bandwidth and speeds for optimal performance.” But while this may well happen, VIAVI’s Okamoto says there are two aspects in fibre optics that must be considered when it comes to data centre network ecosystems. These are multi-fibre push-on (MPO) connectors and fibre monitoring/automation. MPO It’s no secret that demand for increased bandwidth is driving the deployment of high fibre count ribbon cables with multifibre push-on (MPO) connectors.
These cables are present to some degree in all high-capacity optical
environments, from hyperscale networks that require connectivity between and inside individual data centres, to edge compute deployments in support of ultra-low latency in virtually every network application, including for 5G. “Testing MPO infrastructure helps reduce overall cost while achieving faster deployment and monetisation of networks comprised of high fibre count MPO cables,” says Okamoto. FIBRE MONITORING/AUTOMATION Installing, managing and tracking thousands of fibre connections and cabling routes inside and in between data centres, commercial buildings, and campus environments is a real challenge, and it’s not getting technically easier. If not done properly it can lead to many problems during operation of the lit network. “Moving forward, greater automation and control is key, it will help network operators streamline provisioning and monitoring of network connectivity, gain an accurate view of what is connected where in the network, reduce downtime by real-time notification of unauthorised changes, and produce up-to-date reports on the state of the infrastructure,” Okamoto says.
Vipul Bhatt VP Marketing, Datacom Vertical, Coherent
Koji Okamoto VP, Fibre & Access Business, VIAVI
Manmeet Walia Director, Product Marketing, Synopsys Solutions Group
Martin Vallo Senior Analyst, Yole Intelligence
Tom Mader COO, OpenLight
Tim Vang VP, Marketing & Applications, Semtech.
| ISSUE 32 | Q1 2023
PETER DYKES VINCENT GARNIER Q&A
FTTH EUROPEAN ROLLOUT: GOING WELL, BUT COULD BE BETTER
With the FTTH Council Europe’s Conference taking place in Madrid, on 18th – 20th April 2023, Optical Connections’ editor Peter Dykes went screen-to-screen with the Council’s Director General Vincent Garnier , to look at the state of FTTH rollout on the continent.
millions being spent putting fibre the ground, somehow, there will have to be some payback and you will only get payback if a high percentage of the population is subscribing to services on these networks.
other countries where some work still has to be done [such as] Belgium, but of course, given its size, Belgium has a lower impact on the overall numbers. The rural areas are in most countries less covered than the rest of the population. In those areas, coverage is more around 30% and coverage in rural areas very often comes last in development plans. They are more difficult technically, and it is much more difficult to make a business case to roll out fibre in these regions, so that can explain the difference. But it’s clearly a challenge if we want to move towards 100% coverage, we must make sure that we cover properly and avoid creating a digital divide between city centres, urban areas, dense areas and the less dense areas. Rural areas have been attracting alternative operators with very nimble and agile business models, focusing on these areas because very often incumbents and the larger players have been putting a lot of effort in urban areas, so this leaves rural markets for other operators. But the difference between coverage and effective subscription means that one of the challenges we have ahead of us is to close that gap and make sure that the adoption of fibre is higher. With
How would you characterise FTTH rollout in Europe?
If we look at the development of full fibre networks across
Europe, we have now passed the threshold of 50% coverage, which means that more than one in two households in Europe has access to full fibre networks, and that is growing. But it means also that we still have half of the journey to cover. We don’t have the latest numbers for the end of 2022 yet, but we anticipate a growth vs 2021. Among those only approximately half of the houses are subscribing to Internet services on fibre, so there’s a big gap between having access to a full fibre network and effectively benefiting from it by subscribing. Another consideration is when we look at what still has to be to be covered with full fibre. The bulk of the remaining areas to be fibreised are actually in three countries. Close to 60% of the remaining potential for fibre deployment in Western Europe can be found in Germany, UK, and Italy. Those three countries will be crucial for Europe to reach the objective of having gigabit connectivity for everyone by 2030. To a lesser extent, you have
Why do you think only 50% of premises passed have taken a connection? We have commissioned a study [looking at this issue] which we will release before the
conference. It started from the fact that 50% is the average take-up, but there are very significant difference between countries. In all countries, take-up follows deployment, but you cannot have 50% take-up when you start rolling out of course, it takes time to convince people. So, you have a delay, but by comparing like with like between European countries, we can clearly see that some are outperforming and some are underperforming. In some countries, you manage very rapidly to convince potential users to subscribe to and to switch from copper to fibre. In other countries it is much more difficult and there are multiple reasons. Some are linked to structural market conditions, others are linked to public policies.
| ISSUE 32 | Q1 2023
PETER DYKES VINCENT GARNIER Q&A
follow the evolution and the rollout of plans which are not, of course, synchronised. For example, with a provider moving from Spain or France after finishing its rollout within one or two years, its people could go on to another country to do the same thing, being trained. But that transition requires a little bit of anticipation.
because it could be a bottleneck, preventing the subscriber from benefiting from the service. So, it’s a question of technology and also of service from the service provider’s perspective. It’s also an opportunity to sell additional services and to engage in a better relationship compared to the one they commonly have as a utility. So that’s an interesting challenge and opportunity to look at in-home connectivity. Copper switch off is where we’re all heading to when a country which has a coverage of 50% and above. Really the strategy to decommission the legacy copper network very often has to be put in place, because it doesn’t make sense to maintain two networks in parallel. There are countries which are far ahead, but many still have a lot of work to do to put in place the appropriate plans and that involves the incumbents and the regulators, because it has multiple impacts on the market. PD Is there still a skill shortage and if so, is it particularly an issue for European infrastructure providers working across a number of different countries?
The advertising around fibre is one issue. It’s very difficult to sell the benefits of fibre when you have previously during the last 10 years promoted hybrid technologies (copper + fibre) as being fibre. So, if you have used the word fibre in your advertising to promote hybrid solutions which include fibre but do not provide the full fibre performance, it becomes extremely difficult to knock at the door of a customer and say, “Do you want fibre?” The answer will be, “But I have fibre. You told me three years ago that I had fibre.” The Council communicated around that problem in 2020 (see FTTH Council Europe’s publication Identifying European Best Practice in Fibre Advertising). Indeed, some countries have independently implemented legislation to prevent this kind of misleading advertising and avoid confusion, however, others have not. In the UK that battle has been brought to court by some operators and they failed because the law in terms of advertising seems to be less strict in the UK. But the rollout needs to be strictly full fibre to be able to use the word fibre and we now have a misleading situation, and same thing is happening in some Eastern European countries. Another issue is that it’s difficult sometimes to simply get acceptance, because it’s a change, it’s disturbing and some people don’t see the value and don’t want to be disturbed. This does however highlight a difference between a single house and multi dwelling units. It’s easier to deal with a well organised building with 300 people living in it rather than individual homes where you need to drill the wall to bring the fibre inside. There are also considerations in terms of the price of fibre versus price of alternatives. There are multiple parameters’ so our report is going to study in detail eight countries, analyse all factors which could be helping take- up and others which could be obstacles and following another a review, make some recommendations.
The FTTH Council Europe’s event is being held in Spain this year. Is there any particular
reason for choosing that country?
Spain is a good example of fibre rollout because it has already reached over 80% coverage and
is leading the rest of Europe in that respect. We can learn from the way the country has successfully managed the deployment of fibre and also from how they are managing the current situation, as they are already actively proceeding with copper switch off. Spain is also managing and organising the market from a different perspective which is: we need to make it profitable; we need to monetize the network and we need to optimise things, so I think the lessons are interesting from Spain.
It is still an issue. I mean, it is an issue everywhere in Europe, and not only for our industry, but it’s
definitely an issue in our industry for the countries where there is very high ambition to roll out in a very short amount of time. The UK is a typical example where there are so many operators, so many ambitious providers, and every one of them is really eager to develop its footprint and roll out as fast as possible. Clearly, skill shortage is a big problem, indeed Germany is facing the same thing. And
then, at the European level the difficulty is, can you move the
workforce from one country to another one easily? It’s at that point that you see that the small details matter, such as language and culture, because technical skill is not the only problem. You not only need staff for splicing fibre, but you also need staff to discuss with local authorities and to talk to the people where you are making the connections. So it’s not only an operational issue, it’s not only technical, it requires a variety of, of skills, and of course, when you have such a surge in the investment, it’s difficult to get everything local. So one of the challenges is how do you move the competencies and the skills between different European markets to
What else could be done to encourage take-up?
The other interesting challenge ahead of us is the concept of home connectivity. Bringing one
gigabit or potentially more to the doorstep doesn’t necessarily mean that customers will receive the same bandwidth on their devices because in between, there is in-home connectivity. Very often it’s WiFi, or
Vincent Garnier Director General, FTTH Council Europe.
sometimes it’s cabled, but what happens inside premises matters
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