Optical/IP Networks

Metro Rules at NFOEC

BALTIMORE – NFOEC – Looking for good news from the optical networking industry? Then consider the slew of next-generation components announcements that dominated the first day of news at the NFOEC here in Baltimore.

The major action seems to be in components for metro networks. Alcatel Optronics (Nasdaq: ALAO; Paris: CGO.PA), JDS Uniphase Inc. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU), and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) all launched component portfolios designed to meet the price and performance points of metro optical systems.

"The metro market is an area of comparatively strong growth," says John Lively, director of optical components, at RHK Inc. in Nortel's press release.

Gary Shaffer, general partner at Morgenthaler Ventures, agrees. "You're not going to see a down quarter in metro." Even in these trying times, there's still a huge demand for metro gear and the components that go into it. Since metro represents a tiny fraction of a carrier's total budget, carriers can easily increase their spending on metro but still keep total capital spending down.

The requirements of the metro network are radically different from the core. Components for the core are being developed with two things in mind: Sending signals farther and faster. In other words, performance is the primary concern.

By their very nature, metro nets are less demanding in terms of distance and capacity requirements. Instead, the overriding factor is cost, with size and power consumption coming in close seconds.

Highlights of the Alcatel Optronics product launch included high performance 10-Gbit/s receivers and transmitters, compact EDFA (erbium-doped fiber amplifier) gain modules or "amplets", and tiny 1310-nanometer distributed feedback (DFB) lasers that send 2.5-Gbit/s signals over 40 kilometers. The lasers are based on planar silicon submount -- a technology the company claims will enable it to integrate passive and active components with ease (see Alcatel Optronics Displaying at NFOEC).

Nortel's 14-strong new product offering also includes compact amplets and small footprint 1310nm transmitters. In addition, the vendor unveiled a 1550nm direct modulated "buried het" laser with a bit rate of 2.5 Gbit/s and a maximum reach of 175km (see Nortel Launches Metro Components).

JDSU's contribution also included direct modulated 2.5-Gbit/s laser modules, as well as other lasers for the L-band. Other products included 10-Gbit/s avalanche photodiode receivers with automatic gain control, resulting in better performance over a wider range of optical powers. Uniquely, JDSU developed a tunable filter for use in metro optical add/drop multiplexers (see JDSU Expands Module Suite).

JDSU also introduced "uncooled" laser technology. These include 980nm pump laser modules that don't require thermal electric coolers (TECs).

Some of the products being showcased by smaller companies conform to the metro theme. K2 Optronics Inc. demonstrated a direct modulated laser that it claims is capable of transmitting 2.5-Gbit/s signals over 300km -- a product that will compete with Nortel's "buried het" device (see K2 Claims Laser Record).

Last, but not least, Bookham Technology PLC (Nasdaq: BKHM; London: BHM) announced that it is shipping samples of its 10-Gbit/s, mini-FLAT packaged receiver for metro networks (among other things) to selected customers (see Bookham Launches VOAs, Receiver).

— Pauline Rigby, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com For more information on NFOEC, please visit the Light Reading NFOEC Site.

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