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Look Into the Future of Optical Networks at ECOC 2018

Simon Stanley
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Simon Stanley
9/17/2018
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Key developments and research for future optical networks will be discussed during a workshop at ECOC 2018 in Rome, Italy, presented by experts from operators, equipment suppliers and academic institutions based in the US, China and Europe.

The future bandwidth available through 5G mobile and fixed line networks depends heavily on the development and deployment of advanced optical networks connecting data centers, edge computing systems, base stations and access networks. High-capacity and flexible optical networks are vital for the delivery of enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and cloud services that support a growing range of applications including ultra-high-definition video (UHD), social media, vehicle communications, big data processing, data management and storage and IoT.

Optical networks are continuing to evolve. Performance, flexibility, power consumption and reliability are key drivers. Higher throughput per wavelength, disaggregation and Transport SDN (T-SDN) have caught the headlines. Behind-the-scenes work is going on to deliver greater spectral efficiency, higher data rate channels and greater integration. Cost-effective coherent modules with flexible operating modes enable new deployment models. Artificial intelligence and enhanced network management will enable autonomous and self-healing networks that provide dynamic bandwidth on demand.

Several industry groups are working to set longer-term goals and directions for the optical networking industry, freed from near-term thinking and competition and standardization constraints. ON2020 is currently an IEEE Industry Connections Activity that provides a forum for operators and optical solution vendors to share visions and develop technology roadmaps and evolution scenarios to ensure the right solutions are available. Activities within ON2020 cover the areas of T-SDN, ROADM/OXC, 5G-oriented optical networks and next-generation WDM and optical link technologies. During the workshop, Peter Winzer, the ON2020 Chair, will give an update on the five topics that are being studied by ON2020, traffic evolution in optical networks, optics integration onto switch engines, optics integration onto coherent engines, the physical layer of the transport network and the autonomy/control of the transport network.

NGOF (the Next Generation Optical transport network Forum) was formed in China towards the end of 2017 to drive the optical innovation needed for the 5G and cloud era. Mr Zhang He from the NGOF core team will provide an introduction and overview of the works within NGOF.

As bandwidth demands continue to grow Dr Kevin Smith, formerly with BT, will be discussing advanced high-speed transmission developments towards 400G per wavelength and beyond. OTN-based networks have formed a key part of mobile infrastructure and Maarten Vissers, Technology VP, Transmission Network Product Line, at Huawei will be talking about efforts to optimize OTN for multiservice mobile cloud applications in the metro network. Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly important in all networks, and Professor Massimo Tornatore from Politecnico di Milano in Italy will discuss emerging research directions for machine learning in optical networks. Finally, Professor Andrea Melloni, also from Politecnico di Milano will bring us back to the hardware with a look at ways to harness photonic integrated circuits (PICs) in flexible optical networks.

The first session in Technology Trends for Optical Networks Towards 2020 and Beyond, at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 23, "The evolution for next-generation optical networks" will discuss these topics and should prove to be compelling, covering a wide range of key technologies and solutions that are needed for next-generation optical networks supporting cloud and 5G services. Those that are interested in metro and DCI networks should stay on for the second session “The next data rate for metro networks” which will feature a complimentary mix of speakers. The ECOC 2018 conference is located in Rome, Italy, and is running from Sunday 23rd to Thursday, September 27 in parallel with the ECOC Exhibition running from Monday 24th to Wednesday, September 26. I will be leading the discussion, and I hope to see you there.

— Simon Stanley, Analyst at Large, Heavy Reading

(Disclosure: Huawei sponsored this blog post.)

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