Infinera expects commercial XR Optics in 2022

Industry consortium backing the nascent tech to be unveiled within a matter of months.

Ken Wieland, contributing editor

March 19, 2021

3 Min Read
Infinera expects commercial XR Optics in 2022

Rob Shore, SVP of marketing at US-based Infinera, told Light Reading he expected first commercial deployments of the company's prototype XR Optics tech sometime next year.

He was also hopeful of announcing an XR Optics industry consortium of some description, comprising service providers, technology partners and even standards organizations, "within a matter of months."

With an eye on ZR+ optics, another 400G technology, Shore is keen to highlight XR Optics' "pluggable" credentials.

Figure 1: Infinera's XR optics enables a single transceiver to generate numerous lower-speed subcarriers that can be independently steered to different destinations. (Source: Infinera) Infinera's XR optics enables a single transceiver to generate numerous lower-speed subcarriers that can be independently steered to different destinations.
(Source: Infinera)

"ZR+ has generated a fair amount of press coverage, but there's really nothing special about it except industry standardization," asserted Shore.

"What we want to do with XR Optics is rather than just release a technology, and hope people take it, is to build an industry coalition."

Some progress has already been made on the coalition front, through partnerships with Lumentum and II-VI, although these were announced over a year ago.

Shore was nonetheless confident that industry momentum was swinging the way of XR Optics. "We've got a whole host of other equipment manufacturers and sub component manufacturers on the hook here as well," he said.

On trial

Shore was speaking to Light Reading after Infinera announced yet another successful field trial of XR Optics, but this time – somewhat unusually – with a towerco in the shape of America Tower.

Shore asserted that the proof-of-concept, which took place in Colombia, "proved once again that XR Optics' signals can coexist with PON architectures."

Infinera has been involved in nearly two dozen XR Optics trials with operators globally, including BT. Only a few days prior to the American Tower PoC, the UK's Virgin Media also put XR Optics through its paces

"XR optics is the only coherent point-to-multipoint solution being proposed enabling significantly greater capacity [400G and above]," says David Welch, Infinera's founder and chief innovation officer.

"XR optics also enables efficiencies and network simplification beyond access by enabling a single transceiver to aggregate traffic from multiple lower speed transceivers anywhere in the network."

Through a glass darkly

How quickly XR Optics can gain market traction is open to debate. Heavy Reading's Sterling Perrin acknowledges the progress being made by Infinera through its various trials, but still views XR optics as very much a "future-looking technology."

Want to know more about optical? Check out our dedicated optical channel here on Light Reading.

"XR optics is an interesting adaptation of Nyquist subcarriers in coherent transmission that allows the individual subcarriers to be individually routed, but, at increments of nx25G, this is at least a generation ahead of next-gen PON variants," he says.

Julie Kunstler, a principal analyst at research firm Omdia, a Light Reading sister company, pointedly notes that because XR Optics is quite new, the ecosystem is inevitably immature. "It's too early to forecast a cost curve," she said.

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Ken Wieland

contributing editor

Ken Wieland has been a telecoms journalist and editor for more than 15 years. That includes an eight-year stint as editor of Telecommunications magazine (international edition), three years as editor of Asian Communications, and nearly two years at Informa Telecoms & Media, specialising in mobile broadband. As a freelance telecoms writer Ken has written various industry reports for The Economist Group.

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