Infinera Flexes Its Modulators

Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) plans to introduce software-changeable modulation for all of its 100Gbit/s coherent line cards.

The technology is called FlexCoherent, and it's getting announced today at the Pacific Telecommunications Council gathering in Honolulu, where Infinera CTO Dave Welch will be speaking on a panel with the promising title, "Subsea Cable Smackdown." We're picturing giant squids duking it out.

The first two modulation formats supported are: polarization multiplexed, quadrature phase-shift keying (PM-QPSK, which is being used in the OIF framework for 100Gbit/s long-haul transmission); and PM-BPSK (polarization multiplexed, binary phase-shift keying). FlexCoherent could also support other formats, such as high levels of quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), as they get adopted, Welch says.

Why this matters
With different modulation schemes available, carriers can make tradeoffs, especially in cases where they need a format that can overcome fiber impairments or survive undersea distances. Software configurability lets Infinera cover many modulation cases with just a handful of line cards; likewise, carriers can buy a smaller variety of cards and apply them to many cases. Given the likely expense of 100Gbit/s systems, this could be an interesting feature.

Welch, talking to Light Reading by phone from Hawaii (it was hard to tell if he was on the beach or not), speculates that everyone will offer software-configurable modulation eventually. But Infinera is claiming to be the first to announce it.

Infinera's press release notes that FlexCoherent will be available for 40Gbit/s coherent transmission -- cards that won't be based on Infinera's photonic integrated circuits (PICs) -- as well as for 100 Gbit/s.

For more
Not all of the modulation schemes mentioned in these stories are Infinera-supported, but the list will give you an idea of how many modulation options are out there.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 5:15:20 PM
re: Infinera Flexes Its Modulators

Very interesting announcement.  Those of you who know me, know that I know modulators.

Few questions come to mind.

-Wonder who is supplying the MZI's used in this module?

-is it available NOW? or is this a press release designed to delay purchasing decisions in key accounts?  We all know that many big companies regularly (classic case are the many press releases by Cisco over the years regards products that are still a long way from commercial release) use this strategy to preserve market share or to introduce FUD (FUD = fear, uncertainty & doubt about a competitor) into the minds of key buyers so that they delay decision making and purchasing decisions.  We know that once such decisions are made by carriers, it is hard to reverse them.  So, what is the real status of this product / module?

Now I have to go off and take a look at the Infinera web site to see can I find any real specs on this module.


ninjaturtle 12/5/2012 | 5:15:20 PM
re: Infinera Flexes Its Modulators

Most likely this will part of the upcoming 40G and 100G product. In addition, with Top Tiers the RFQ process is defined and as you also now it can take years to select a supplier(s). So IMO I don't think it is available now. Infinera is simply keeping current with existing and possible new customers with there Tech Roadmap. This is simply a millstone they have incorporated in there product offerings. Obviously based on Verizon, it is what they feel is required to move forward in the future. Infinera is simply providing a solution within there future product offering.

In either case it's all good.


^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 5:15:19 PM
re: Infinera Flexes Its Modulators

it is fun to note that Infinera's 40G / 100G product is still "upcoming".  Others have been shipping 40G for some time.  And have released or near release of 100G platforms.

Still looking for specs on it, but so far, company has not posted any.  

Pretty clear this is one of those "technology roadmap" announcements as Ninja stated.

And interesting that the mighty PIC is not part of this new module / line card.  Wonder what kind of DWDM density Infinera will support with this new card?  will run on the 25Ghz spaced system? That is without guard bands?  With guard bands, how big are those bands? 

Looking to see what kind of spectral efficiency this new blade or module will support in addition to raw performance specs.

Will be fun to watch over the coming quarters.


Stevery 12/5/2012 | 5:15:18 PM
re: Infinera Flexes Its Modulators


2007: they announce a 40G inverse mux 

Sept 2009: Delivered 40G PICs from development, will be available later that year  

May 2010: Abandon 40G. 

Today:  Announce software config of modulation of 40G, despite abandonment of its 40G internal part program.


paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:15:13 PM
re: Infinera Flexes Its Modulators


You really think Verizon or AT&T or any customer that size is changing their buying due to a press release?  You really think a major customer wants to get its product info that way?


Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:15:13 PM
re: Infinera Flexes Its Modulators

Sailboat asks:

> -is it available NOW? or is this a press release designed to delay purchasing decisions in key accounts?

Without speaking for Infinera's intentions, I'd say the latter is the closer guess.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:15:10 PM
re: Infinera Flexes Its Modulators

brookseven -- No, I don't. But I can understand why Infinera would want to continue playing up its 100G advantages in advance of the technology. They might not lead in terms of release date, but they don't want people concentrating on that part.

An explanation that's probably more directly true: Infinera wanted to talk about this technology at the PTC conference (because of the application to submarine networks). Why not play it up to the rest of the world, too.

Stevery 12/5/2012 | 5:15:10 PM
re: Infinera Flexes Its Modulators

> You really think Verizon or AT&T or any customer that size

I think PR like this has more to do with customers the size of Fidelity or Vanguard.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:15:09 PM
re: Infinera Flexes Its Modulators




My friend Stevery nailed my thinking.  Nobody does PR on this kind of stuff for anything other than investors.  The number of customers that matter are or the order of 20 on a global basis.  Those guys are getting talked to regularly.  Everybody else might buy some kit, but in the end those sales cycles have little or nothing to do with what gets said publicly.  The fact that they feel like they have to PR this stuff is a huge negative to me.  The bigger firms just talk to the big customers.  Infinera must feel that it is still trying to work on credibility.



(AT&T, Verizon, NTT, BT, FT, DT, Couple in China, Couple in India + some random others off the top of my head).


Survivorman 12/5/2012 | 5:14:47 PM
re: Infinera Flexes Its Modulators

I wonder if it's compatible with their 'digital ROADM's.'  If not (and I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this) how would they upgrade an existing (especially GMPLS managed) line? 

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