Vendors Put DWDM To The Test -- Sort Of

Baltimore, MD--Vendors unveiled a bunch of new analyzers at this week's Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) conference in Baltimore -- claiming that the products take the pain out of deploying the latest high-capacity DWDM (dense wave division multiplexing) gear and services.

But do they? A closer examination of the feature sets of the new products shows that they fall down in some areas, and are downright feeble in others. For instance, the ability to track specific characteristics of DWDM channels is still MIA, as are customization features. And the products are about as user-friendly as a punch in the face.

New DWDM channel analyzers were shown at OFC by Agilent Technologies Inc. http://www.agilent.com, Anritsu Corp. http://www.anritsu.com, Exfo http://www.exfo.com, GN Nettest http://www.gnnettest.com, and Tektronix http://www.tektronix.com. All of these vendors offer diagnostic boxes capable of viewing over 100 DWDM channels.

Up to now, the range of test equipment available for DWDM has been limited to 'scopes' that plot the condition of several channels on a wavelength. But demand from vendors and carriers to increase DWDM channels has led test gear suppliers to multiply the number of channels they can view. As reported previously by Light Reading (see What's Hot At The OFC), GN Nettest takes the prize for monitoring most channels. The vendor's CMA4791 Optical Channel Analyzer can view up to 256 DWDM channels. In comparison, Agilent's 86145A Optical Spectrum Analyzer views 180 channels; Anritsu's MS9720 monitors up to 120; and Tektronix's Q8384 tracks 128. (Exfo's booth staff wouldn't give even this basic information about its FTB 5240 product to Light Reading, although it claims it's designed to compete with the ones mentioned here.)

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