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ON2020 Readout Identifies New Optical Challenges

Simon Stanley
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Simon Stanley
9/26/2017
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Using feedback from leading web-scale and telecom network operators, the ON2020 group has collated optical network requirements through 2020 and beyond, identifying new challenges and opportunities for network operators, equipment manufacturers and component suppliers. This information was presented at a readout meeting during the recent ECOC conference and exhibition in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Optical networks 2020 (ON2020) is an open, global and industry-wide initiative to understand requirements and define optical network solutions strategies beyond 2020. ON2020 is developing long-term industry visions beyond current product deployments and concrete product roadmaps. The group has held several meetings and workshops during the last year, attended by a wide range of industry experts from network operators, component suppliers, network equipment vendors, analyst companies, universities and standards bodies.

The survey conducted by ON2020 during 2017 included substantial responses from individuals at 10 major global telecom and datacom network operators as well as a number of other industry experts. The survey covered four topic areas: capacity and granularity, connectivity and flexibility, management and operations, and open networking and disaggregation. The initial analysis by ON2020 suggests that many operators are not looking beyond the next network deployment and are not planning for continued network capacity growth in line with recent trends. This is a challenge that ON2020 hopes to help the industry overcome.

Webscale and large telecom carriers frequently need more than 10 Tbit/s per link today and will need 40 Tbit/s per link soon. Most carriers are planning for 30 to 50 percent annual traffic growth per year. This capacity growth will require more than a single C-band and many carriers are expecting to deploy both multiple C-bands and combined C+L-bands depending on the fibers available. Backbone granularity needs to be 100G, 200G, 400G with service granularity down to 10M, 100M or 1G for telecom operators and 25G for Web-scale operators. Super-channels are consistently favored for interface rates above 400G. Based on current capacity growth, a router blade in 2024 will need to support 20 Terabit Ethernet interfaces, which is considered to be a challenge for system developers. Respondents ranked reducing 100G cost and power consumption above cost-effective 400G and developing white-box optical modules.

The number of network nodes varies widely depending on the operator and subnetwork, with a desire to consolidate nodes where possible. For some nodes, the number of degrees needs to be more than six. The deployment of CDC ROADMs is being held up by cost, reliability and management concerns. Dynamic network reconfiguration is desired with changes completing within a few minutes. There was no desire expressed to transparently bridge domains other than submarine/terrestrial-LH and terrestrial-LH/metro-regional. In particular there was no desire to bridge metro-PON and inter-intra-DC. Respondents ranked reducing ROADM/OXC cost and power consumption ahead of improving fiber links and increasing system flexibility.

SDN is universally seen as an important ingredient in optical networking for faster service innovation and OAM. Respondents expressed frustration at SDN solutions requiring operators to partner with companies to develop their own SDN solution. Disaggregation and white boxes are seen as important developments to reduce cost and avoid vendor lock-in, but performance and reliability are major concerns; many are not willing to compromise on overall system reliability. Respondents ranked faster network deployments ahead of Transport SDN (T-SDN) interoperability and faster bandwidth-on-demand (BoD). Management, operations and disaggregation are overwhelming several telecom operators and presenting significant operational and organizational challenges.

Looking to the future, ON2020 is continuing to receive inputs from operators and industry experts, developing white papers and evaluating future projects for next-generation ROADM/OXC, transport SDN, 5G-oriented optical networks, and next-generation WDM and optical link technologies. ON2020 is working on a formal association with a standards organization and is planning an ON2020 Summit during OFC 2018 in San Diego.

More information on the survey and links to submit your inputs are on the ON2020 website at Information-Sharing Meeting at ECOC 2017. There is also a downloadable copy of the ON2020 readout presentation given by Peter Winzer from Nokia Bell Labs and Xiang Liu from Huawei.

— Simon Stanley, Analyst at Large, Heavy Reading

This article is sponsored by ON2020.

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