Optical/IP Networks

OFC Report: Day One

ANAHEIM, Calif. - OFC2001 - Next-generation optical technology such as high-powered lasers, a raft of DWDM systems and components, and a move toward manufacturing automation dominated the first day of news at the Optical Fiber Conference (OFC), a gathering of companies developing optical technology for next-generation communications systems.

Amid a barrage of more than 50 product announcements, dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) technology accounted for the bulk of news, both on the components and systems levels.

DWDM DWDM technology is finding its way closer to the edge of the telecom network. Quantum Bridge Communications Inc., an optical access company that had previously focused on using low-cost passive components, Ethernet, and ATM to deliver high-bandwidth optical links to office buildings and residential units, added a DWDM product to the mix (see Quantum Bridge Snaps In DWDM).

Also on the systems level, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) introduced a DWDM-based product for metropolitan networks (see Cisco Introduces Metro DWDM Box).

For long-haul networks, Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV) introduced a long-haul DWDM product, the CorWave LR (see Corvis Offers 3.2-Tbit /s Transport System).

Corvis's new DWDM product supports up to 320 wavelengths on a single fiber, with each wavelength carrying 10 Gbit/s. It can do this over distances of up to 800 kilometers, according to Corvis, which claims the highest aggregate bandwidth in the industry -- 3.2 terabits per second.

The new system was developed by Algety Telecom, a French startup acquired by Corvis last spring (see Corvis Boosts IPO With Acquisition). It uses solition technology -- shaping of light pulses so they travel farther -- in addition to Raman pumping, the technology used in Corvis's other DWDM systems. The upshot is that the CorWave LR can carry 10 Gbit/s per wavelength, four times the bandwidth of Corvis's home-grown products.

The snag is that it isn't compatible with Corvis's other products. It can only be connected to them via electrical interfaces, which runs counter to Corvis's marketing message about all-optical networks.

40 Gbit/s Several announcements pushed optical networks into the 40-Gbit/s territory. Most optical systems today max out at 10 Gbit/s, with many companies racing to develop advanced optical components that will enable 40-Gbit/s transmission.

Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) announced a 40-Gbit/s DWDM system (see Nortel Pumps a Bigger, Faster Core). At the same time, the company announced it is testing a laser for 40-Gbit/s MEMS-based systems (see Nortel Ships 40-Gig MEMS Lasers).

Components giant JDS Uniphase Inc. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) announced a 40-Gbit/s modulator among a total of 70 new products (see JDSU Readies OFC Blitz).

OpNext Inc. showed prototypes of a 40-Gbit/s optical module. Although these won't be shipping until 2002, the vendor says such modules will play a key role in the company's future.

"Cost is the issue at this point," says CEO Harry L. Bosco. "But the demand is there. The router vendors are the ones driving the demand for 40-Gbit/s. They want it, and they're pushing hard to get it."

Bosco said carriers don't want to be left in the lurch once 40-Gbit/s interfaces to backbone networks are made available. OpNext plans to open an R&D facility for its 40-Gbit/s products in Thousand Oaks, Calif., sometime this year. The vendor plans to start trialing short-reach 40-Gbit/s transceivers by the end of the summer and long-reach modules (capable of extending up to 80km without regeneration) by the end of the year.

Component Potpourri There was even more action in enabling component technologies, especially for DWDM. The themes appeared to be:

- smaller and denser DWDM widgets (see Lumenon Showcases CWDM Widgets and WaveSplitter Pushes 2 Products at OFC);
- high-power VCSELs (see Novalux Details Laser Advance, Nova Crystals Proves VCSEL Design, and ITF Releases Polarization Pump);
- and new transceiver and amplifier technology (see 'Marconi Optical Components' Debuts, BroadLight Announces Transceivers, Teem Shows Tiny Amplifier, E2O Introduces Links, Transceivers, Toshiba Expands Optical Portfolio, 10-Gig Transponder Group Grows, and Agere Unveils 10-Gig Transmitter).

JDS Uniphase announced a series of new lasers, dynamic gain equalizers, 25 GHz interleavers, 10-Gbit/s transponders, VMUXes (arrayed wave gratings with integrated variable attenuators), optical switches based on MEMS and MOMS, and optical performance monitors. The company had integrated the products for a live demonstration in an optical network.

Also on the laser front, Novalux Inc. introduced a high-powered VCSEL (vertical cavity surface-emitting laser) (see Novalux Details Laser Advance).

Automation Manufacturing and testing continues to be an important development for optical technology, because automated testing and manufacturing will be important in lowering the price of optical systems. Along these lines, several companies announced new developments in manufacturing automation.

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) announced an automated testing product (see Agilent Automates Component Testing); and Veeco Instruments Inc. introduced an automated optical inspection and testing platform (see Veeco Expands Test Line).

Cenix Inc., a company using automated manufacturing techniques to mass-produce optical subsystems, announced 10-Gbit/s and 40-Gbit/s optical subsystems (see Cenix Unveils Subsystems). And kSaria Corp., another startup focusing on manufacturing automation, announced it had opened its first facility (see KSaria Expands, Automates).

Other optical technology news in various categories:

Optical switching technologies: See Spectra Switch Is Liquid Crystal, Polatis Trials Optical Switch, Blue Sky Unveils Optical Crossconnects, and OptiMight Launches Flagship Product.

FDM: See Kestrel Issues Optical FDM Spec. Voice and softswitch technology: See Alcatel in Norwegian Trial and Telica Augments Switch Platform.

Sonet: See PMC-Sierra Announces Sonet Chip Set .

Communications Chips: See Vitesse Delivers High-End Chipset and Acterna Offers Test Devices.

-- Compiled from Light Reading staff reports http://www.lightreading.com

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