Optical sector shines a light on 800G, 5G xHaul developments

  • The virtual OFC show has opened its digital doors
  • The optical and data transport sector is showing off its latest developments
  • 800G connectivity options are increasing, 400G still hot
  • Data centre connectivity (inside and in-between) and 5G xHaul transport links are key applications  

The annual OFC event, where the optical networking industry gathers to share its latest developments, has shifted a few months later than normal and is running this week (as a 100% digital show), so expect to hear a lot about advances in data transport technology during the next few days, especially in relation to 800G and advances in data centre connectivity and 5G xHaul. 

While much of the telecoms sector’s high-profile action happens in other parts of the market, the optical and IP/data transport segments are absolutely critical to ensuring that cloud, mobile and broadband services are delivered efficiently, so it’s worthwhile keeping up with developments in a market that, depending on how its sliced and diced, is worth in the region of $35 billion in sales per year and which, according to the major players in the market, is set to grow at least for the next few years.

Here are a few announcements to set the scene… 

  • Optical components vendor Source Photonics has unveiled a range of 800G optical transceivers for data centre and telecoms applications. “As the initial wave of widescale deployment of 400G is taking place in data centres, hyperscale data centre customers are already looking into 800G and beyond, together with the release of 25.6T switching ASIC, to further support the increasing demand for bandwidth-intensive applications. The 800G client interfaces will not only double port density over currently available 400G transceivers, but also are expected to further reduce per gigabit power and cost over equivalent 400G client interfaces,” notes the company in this announcement
  • Another 800G development comes from Lumentum, also a major optical component vendor. While 400 gigabit ethernet (GbE) is currently enjoying widespread deployment, 800 GbE is poised to rapidly follow to address these bandwidth demands, as the Lumentum team is set to explain this week during OFC. The event's organizers noted that “one approach to 800 GbE is to install eight 100 gigabit per second (Gbps) optical interfaces or lanes. As an alternative to reduce the hardware count, increase reliability, and lower cost, a team of researchers at Lumentum developed an optical solution that uses four 200 Gbps wavelength lanes to reach 800 GbE.” Read more.
  • Chip giant Broadcom has announced the availability of its expanded portfolio of 100Gb, 200Gb, 400Gb and 800Gb electro-optics platform solutions for data centre and cloud networks. “With Broadcom’s full line of end-to-end solutions, data centre operators and cloud providers can cost-effectively deploy 100Gb, 200Gb, 400Gb and 800Gb links to expand their network capacity and support growing bandwidth demands,” the company noted. Dr. Vladimir Kozlov, CEO and founder of LightCounting Market Research stated: “Growth in demand for optical connectivity in hyperscale data centres exceeded all expectations. It increased by 80x over the last decade: from 10G in 2010 to 800G by the end of 2020. Broadcom is one of the key suppliers enabling this incredible ramp in speed and complexity of optical interconnects. Their new products, including first 100G VCSELs, 200G EMLs and 112G Direct-Drive PAM-4 PHYs, confirm the company’s commitment to innovation in optical and electronic components supporting the industry.” Read more.
  • High-speed connectivity component developer Point2 Technology has unveiled its 5G RangeXtender, a Small Form-Factor Pluggable 28 (SFP28) module that, the company claims, extends the reach of fronthaul and backhaul in 5G networks and helps reduce capex and opex. “As 5G is deployed, wireless carriers will need to support enormous increases in traffic, which means they will need to upgrade the data rates of their fiber links for fronthaul and backhaul from 10 Gb/s to 25 Gb/s and soon to 50 Gb/s,” notes Point2 CEO Sean Park. “This will require significant investments in infrastructure long before they can realize revenue from it. Our RangeXtender essentially allows existing fiber infrastructure to increase reach from the current 10 km to 30 km through the use of a unique EDC/CDR SoC [electrical dispersion compensation/clock-and-data recovery system-on-chip]. The result is much lower cost of ownership because it reduces the need for costly fiber extension, dispersion compensation filters, and amplification while enhancing link performance on the aging fiber,” claims the CEO in this announcement.
  • NeoPhotonics has used its Multi-Rate CFP2-DCO coherent pluggable transceivers to achieve data transmission rates of 400 Gbit/s over a distance of 1,500 km in a 75 GHz-spaced DWDM network while “taking the adjacent channel crosstalk-induced penalty into account,” notes the company in this announcement
  • Open networking has been under development in the optical transport sector for a few years already: Now the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Open Optical and Packet Transport Project Group says its Converged Architectures for Network Disaggregation & Integration (CANDI) subgroup has successfully demonstrated open optical network control and management. “The trial is a critical step to helping operators adopt best-in-breed solutions for increased vendor diversity and agility in their optical networks,” says TIP in this announcement.
  • ADVA was part of that trial and has outlined the roles played by its FSP 3000 open line system (OLS) and Ensemble Controller network management and SDN domain controller system in this announcement.
  • Corning has unveiled what it calls a “revolutionary” new product, the SMF-28 Contour optical fiber, “to help telecommunications operators address the ever-expanding number of connected devices, build-out of 5G networks, and advances in cloud computing,” it notes in this announcement. “Networks perform at their best when errors are minimized during fiber installation and when existing infrastructure is used efficiently during upgrades. Corning engineered SMF-28 Contour fiber to meet those needs. This groundbreaking product will allow customers to seamlessly upgrade their optical infrastructures, enabling the cost-effective deployment of future-ready networks,” added the vendor.  
  • Worldwide spending on network transport equipment increased by 4% in the first quarter of 2021, according to the most recent Transport Hardware Report from research firm Cignal AI. “Strong gains in switching and routing spending were offset by the slightly weaker deployment of optical transport equipment,” noted the Cignal AI team in this press release, with spending in China dipping slightly while the rest of the world increased its investments.  “Chinese spending on optical transport hardware has plateaued as major 5G network builds mature and new projects have not been initiated,” noted Scott Wilkinson, Lead Analyst for Transport Hardware at Cignal AI. “China’s extraordinary growth during 2015 to 2018 could not continue long term due to the impracticality of expanding upon the enormous amounts that had already been spent in the region,” added Wilkinson. 
  • Another respected research firm, Dell’Oro, recently noted that the optical transport equipment market (a major subset of the network transport equipment sector), was flat year-on-year during the first quarter, with other regions making up for a dip in spending in North America. Huawei, Ciena, ZTE and Nokia were the top four vendors by revenue share. Read more.

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.