Supercomm Lifts the Broadband Curtain

CHICAGO -- Supercomm 2009 -- No more asking if it's going to happen, or when it's going to happen, or what the name is. Supercomm 2009 is happening this week -- in Chicago, Oct. 21 through 23 -- carrying the old name and a new focus (supposedly) on broadband and services.

Even so, plenty of companies are keeping alive the vibe of recent Supercomms (and variations thereof).

The biggest questions at the event this time aren't about technology, but about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Who's going to get the money? How will it be used? Who will squander the most with a brainless, pointless scheme? And, most important, what can carriers to do secure their share in the next round?

The timing of the Recovery Act was, supposedly, a major reason for delaying the show to October from June. (See Supercomm Reborn! and Supercomm Faces the Music.)

So show officials are trying to make good on that logic, offering a track of 11 sessions devoted to national broadband strategy.

Expect to see vendors courting cable, too, even with the Cable Connection - Fall (a cable-conference cavalcade) coming one week later. Cable was already being absorbed into the show, with last year's CableLabs keynote at NXTcomm: This year, it's Patrick Esser, president of Cox Communications Inc. , who gets the podium for a Thursday keynote.

On the access side, the Passive Optical Network (PON) is likely to be a hot topic. The 10-Gbit/s EPON standard recently got ratified by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) , and you can expect the GPON camp to push back with 10-Gbit/s talk of its own. (See 10G-EPON Gets Ratified .)

Don't be surprised if WDM-PON finds its way into conversations as well.

Vestiges of the old Supercomm will pop up, too, as some optical and core-network vendors are still using this venue as their catch-all show for the fall. It seems quite a few systems vendors and even chip vendors will be talking up their 40- and 100-Gbit/s plans. (See Supercomm Trend Watch.)

Optical Transport Network (OTN) switching seems to be on a lot of vendors' minds as well. OTN started out as a transport vehicle for bulk traffic, the equivalent of OC48 and OC192 pipes. Increasingly, it seems carriers want to use OTN for finer-grained traffic, leading to the creation of data units such as ODU0, for carrying one Gigabit Ethernet line. Expect some talk of how chips and systems will allow switching of these smaller OTN slices, and also some mentions of ODUflex, a potential standard for arbitrarily sized OTN pipes.

Here's a sampling of our recent writeups related to the likely themes at Supercomm:

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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