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Tunable Lasers Revisited

Light Reading

Nearly two years ago, Light Reading published a groundbreaking report introducing tunable lasers – devices that can switch from one wavelength to another on demand (see Tune In!).

Tunable lasers promised to revolutionize the optical networking industry by keeping a lid on the problem of the escalating cost of buying, stocking, and managing spares for DWDM equipment. And that was just for starters. Other applications for tunable lasers stretched from enabling automated network provisioning to reconfigurable network architectures.

How much of this has come to pass? Sadly, a lot less than expected. The bursting of the optical bubble has delayed carriers' plans for deployment of tunable lasers and put financial pressure on the companies developing the technology.

But tunable laser technology refuses to die. In fact, vendors remain quietly confident that their patience will be rewarded in the not too distant future. "In two years time, every laser will be a tunable laser," contends James Regan, managing director, Europe, for Agility Communications Inc. Regan says his confidence comes from talking with service provider customers that are now making concrete plans for deployment, as opposed to just talking the talk, as they did a few years ago.

If true, then the market is poised for takeoff, making it one of the few areas of optical components technology that looks set to do so – all the more reason to revisit the topic of tunable lasers.

Like the previous report, this article aims to provide a balanced overview of the market opportunity, technologies, and vendors of tunable lasers. The competitive landscape has changed considerably from two years ago, as some vendors have been swallowed up by the optical depression, and new ones have appeared to replace them. Vendors have also refined the business case for using tunable lasers, and this is detailed in the report.

This report can be read sequentially, or alternatively, simply click to the page of interest using the following hyperlinks:

Here's some background reading that may also prove useful:

— Pauline Rigby, Senior Editor, Light Reading

As usual, this report was previewed in a Light Reading Webinar sponsored by two leading vendors of tunable lasers: Agility Communications Inc. and Iolon Inc.
The Webinar is archived here.

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 12:42:42 AM
re: Tunable Lasers Revisited
Does anybody know the tuning speed and range of some commerical available tunable lasers?

Optical Hub
Mister Light Wave
Mister Light Wave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 12:30:51 AM
re: Tunable Lasers Revisited

Usually the range is 20nm to 40nm at 100s of ms speeds at 0 dBm power output. These are really only good for sparing or very simple tunable architectures. (These numbers or worse are what is promised now but not really available.)

To build next gen networks you need 40nm to 80 nm of tuning at micro second or faster with 5-7 dBm of power to punch through switch. ( Hopefully some smart guy will figure out how to build this laser.)

Tunables must also be as good as DFB and as cheap.

Mr. L. Wave
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