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OIF Steps In to Fill the 100G VoidOIF Steps In to Fill the 100G Void

As vendors move forward on 100G technology, the OIF must step in to fill gaps being left by the major 100G standards bodies

Sterling Perrin

November 3, 2008

2 Min Read
OIF Steps In to Fill the 100G Void

We were grateful to have the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) as a workshop sponsor at this year's Optical Expo in early October. Listening to the OIF representatives speak, I realized the critical role that the OIF has to play in advancing 100-Gbit/s technology forward.

Readers may recall that the OIF was formed 10 years ago with a mission to advance the cause of optical switching technology – specifically, developing a user-to-network interface (UNI) for control-plane signaling interoperability. It was very successful in its control-plane interoperability efforts, but with its major UNI work completed, the OIF stepped into the background a bit. The group remained active in the control plane, and branched out as well, but for the most part, progress was routine.

Now, as vendors are hard at work building 100G transponders, it seems the OIF is badly needed once again to fill the significant gaps that are being left by the major 100G standards bodies. On the one hand, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) is building the 100G Ethernet client-side interface, which is the interface to wide-area network equipment. On the other side, the International Telecommunication Union, Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Study Group 15 is standardizing the wide-area transport of that 100G traffic, which will be carried by a new version of Optical Transport Network (OTN), called OTN4.

The IEEE and ITU-T standards efforts are critical, certainly, but they are also incomplete. Neither the IEEE nor the ITU-T is chartered with standardizing things such as modulation formats or transponder form factors. The problem with 100G is that operator demand took the industry by surprise, leaving vendors and component suppliers to scramble on their own to build products quickly and resulting in a number of uncoordinated efforts. Uncoordinated efforts lead to higher product costs, which slows and stalls technology adoption. Fortunately for all, the OIF has stepped in to fill the 100G standards gap and drive an industry consensus that would otherwise be lacking.

Specifically, the OIF has launched three major 100G initiatives to watch:

  • 100G Long Distance DWDM Transmission Framework: Specifies dual-polarization quadrature phase-shift keying (DP-QPSK) as the sole modulation format, among other things

    • 100G Long Distance DWDM Integrated Photonics Components: Provides the multisource agreement (MSA) foundation for transmit-and-receive photonic components

      • Forward Error Correction for 100G DP-QPSK Long Distance Communication: "Standardizes" FEC specification for 100G using the DP-QPSK modulation format

      The OIF 100G initiatives – like 100G itself – are in early days, but the OIF's early recognition of the need for standards beyond the standards is encouraging; and, if these efforts proceed on schedule, they will be good news for components and chip suppliers, equipment makers, and carriers wishing to deploy 100G.

      — Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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About the Author(s)

Sterling Perrin

Principal Analyst, Heavy Reading

Sterling Perrin has more than 15 years' experience in telecommunications as an industry analyst and journalist. His coverage areas at Heavy Reading include optical networking, cable MSO infrastructure and services, and digital content. He also authors Heavy Reading's Packet-Enabled Optical Networking Quarterly Market Tracker, a special quarterly research service. Perrin joined Heavy Reading after five years at IDC, where he served as lead optical networks analyst, responsible for the firm's optical networking subscription research and custom consulting activities. Prior to IDC, Perrin worked for Standard & Poor's, where he delivered global industry analysis on a range of IT segments. He is a former journalist and editor at Telecommunications Magazine, and has also done consulting work for the research firm Current Analysis. Perrin is a frequent speaker at telecom industry events and is a highly sought-after source among the business and trade press.

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