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The Lightwave Blog
Cisco/Comcast 100G optics
June 30, 2008
Posted by Stephen Hardy
The folks at StrataLight Communications followed up the Cisco/Comcast 100G demo announcement by confirming that they had provided the optics. But according to Ross Saunders, general manager of next-generation transport at StrataLight, the company isn't focusing on productizing the interface used in the demo in the short term.
Saunders wouldn't provide many details (such as modulation format) of the "DWDM optics" his company supplied for the demo, other than to confirm that it involved a single wavelength running at 100G. The interface did not use the 100G chipset the company recently announced, either.
As the IC announcement implied and Saunders confirmed, StrataLight is focusing its 100G attention in the near term on a muxponder product that could be used to aggregate 10G and 40G wavelengths as an interim step toward serial 100G transmission. Saunders says the muxponder or "multiplexing transponder" is slated to be delivered to an OEM and a carrier for trials within the next month. When and if the prototype evolves into a commercially available product will hinge largely on the reaction it generates during these trials.
Meanwhile, the company continues its work in the 40G space.
The buzz from Cable Tec
June 27, 2008
Posted by Meghan Fuller Hanna
Lots to talk about from the Cable Tec Expo, but the biggest question seems to be around FTTH. Will they? Won't they? What is the real market opportunity for PON vendors?
I attended a session early yesterday morning during which independent consultant Victor Blake gave a presentation entitiled, "Cable's Competitive Response to Verizon's FiOS." He began by asking for a show of hands: How many believe FiOS represents a competitive threat? From my vantage point, it looked like the majority of hands went up.
When Blake recapped Verizon's future plans--eventually migrating to 40G upstream / 10G downstream--you could hear murmurs from the crowd. Assuming Verizon doesn't change its split ratios, that's 40G x 32 subscribers, which yields more than 1 Gbit per subscriber. And when you add a WDM-PON overlay, said Blake, it gets even worse--for the cable competitor, that is. There seems to be a growing awareness that their existing architecture just isn't going to cut it.
Blake believes that FTTH is more capable than any current or foreseeable coax technology, and he had some interesting things to say about EPON in particular. (Look for more on that later.) That said, he also cautioned that the MSOs need to get the timing just right--too early and they tie up precious capital, too late and they may miss the opportunity to compete. "It's not a crisis now," he said, "but we can't wait until it becomes a crisis either." Just when the timing will be right remains a subject for debate.
The PON vendors--including Tellabs, Alcatel-Lucent, Hitachi Telecom, Calix, Alloptic, Enablence, and Salira--are all here this week, many touting RFoG or some version of DOCSIS-over-PON. The consensus seems to be that the MSOs will deploy PON for commercial services first. In fact, both Calix and Motorola announced GPON wins this week, specifically for commercial services delivery. From there, the MSOs may begin to deploy PON for residential services in Greenfields, but it will likely be some time before we see them overbuilding their existing architectures.
In fact, if the MSOs do decided to make a wholesale change and deploy PON in overbuild situations, the PON architectures they are most likely to deploy probably won't look much like what's available today. It may be something developed by CableLabs. It may be derived from EPON or GPON. It may be some version of 10G PON. At this point, it's anyone's guess.
That said, almost everyone I spoke with at the show believes the MSOs are serious about PON. Said one source: "The interesting thing about the cable industry and PON is that PON is actually well suited to the MSOs. It's point-to-multipoint. It uses the same wavelengths that the cable industry is used to worrying about. In fact, talking to the telcos about PON is sometimes more difficult than talking to the MSOs."
I plan to write an article for Lightwave's August issue about these trends and others, including some discussion about RFoG as well as the need to integrate with DOCSIS provisioning systems. Keep your eye out for that.
Cable Tec 2008: A fact-finding mission
June 25, 2008
Posted by Meghan Fuller Hanna
I'm leaving in about two hours for the SCTE's Cable Tec Expo, where I hope to find the answers to several questions:
*How serious are the Cable MSOs about FTTH technology?
*Most of the MSOs currently deploying PON technologies are using them to support commercial services. When, if ever, can we expect to see MSO deploying PON for residential services?
*What challenges will they face in migrating to FTTH?
*How is the SCTE's RF-over-glass (RFoG) standard progressing?
*Is DOCSIS 3.0 an interim fix, a stop-gap measure on the way to FTTH, or will it provide enough bandwidth to allow the MSOs to compete with the likes of Verizon's FiOS and AT&T;'s U-verse?
*If the MSOs deploy "telco-grade" PON, do they care about GPON versus EPON? Is WDM-PON on their radar screen?
Last week, I spoke with Jeff Stribling, vice president of marketing and customer service at Salira Systems about the vendor's multi-wavelength PON (MW-PON) and DOCSIS-over-PON (DePON) technologies. (Watch for more on this later.) He told me that Salira sees "a major opportunity, right now, today, in commercial services"--so much so that Salira recently announced its strategic focus on the MSO market.
Stribling says the MSOs' existing HFC infrastructure is, in many cases, insufficient for supporting the kinds of high-bandwidth services that the MSOs must deliver to compete with the likes of FiOS. Traditionally, they have deployed point-to-point CWDM to overcome the bandwidth limitations of HFC, but Salira advocates the use of PON--specifically EPON--as a cost-effective, higher bandwidth alternative that also leverages the ubiquity of Ethernet in their backbone networks.
I suspect other PON vendors will put forth similar arguments; we'll see what the next few days bring.
June 19, 2008
Posted by Stephen Hardy
Quickly reviewing my reporter's notebook while I chomp on a bagel in the press room Thursday morning, here's what I find:
Net Insight, which has ridden its DTM technology to success in the video broadcast market, hopes to make a bigger name for itself in North America through support of telepresence and multiservice delivery...Mintera execs Terry Unter (pres and CEO) and Niall Robinson (VP, prod marketing) claim that they've shipped their 40G transponders to "seven or eight" customers, five of whom have designed the module into a system -- and, in some cases, more than one...Speaking of 40G, rumor has it that the "high speed" company Opnext currently is looking at most closely for acquisition (see blog post below) is StrataLight Communications...Having speculated in the same blog post that it might make sense for Opnext to look at CoreOptics, I asked Saeid Aramideh, VP of global sales, marketing and business Development, about the possibility. He said his company sees itself as a consolidator, not a consolidatee -- and hinted that CoreOptics might prove that in the reasonably near future...Everyone is talking about having an RF return path capability on their PON or other FTTX product to address the MSO market as well as other carriers who want to add on-demand services without abandoning their current RF infrastructure. EPON vendor Alloptic claims that at least some of the GPON vendors touting this capability are using their technology -- which they refuse to sell to other EPON vendors...For every vendor touting WDM-PON at the show (and there are several), there's another saying that there probably isn't much of a market for it between now and the time more affordable 10G PON technology will be available...While the OIF has given its blessing to dual-polarization QPSK for 100G transport, neither Hitachi Telecom nor Adva Optical Networking think that's the right way to go. They don't seem too concerned about the OIF's current direction. If AT&T; or Verizon announced they'd prefer a different modulation format, the OIF would undoubtedly pull an about-face, one source speculated.
More to come later...
The most interesting thing so far
June 18, 2008
Posted by Stephen Hardy
NXTcomm is in full swing, with the buzz surrounding high-speed networking and FTTH, particularly WDM-PON, attaining the anticipated high pitch. The most interesting thing I've heard about so far, in fact, pertains to WDM-PON, specifically Tellabs' upcoming work for the SARDANA program funded by the European Commission.
SARDANA stands for "Scalable Advance Ring-based passive Dense Access Network Architecture." As the name implies, the goal of the three-year program is to develop a ring-based WDM-PON architecture with a reach of around 100 km. (You can read more about it at the project's website.) The key to the extended reach is including amplification in the network. According to Tellabs, they plan to base the amplification on EDFA technology. But how do you put EDFAs, which require power for the pump laser, into an passive network infrastructure? You "disintegrate" it, Tellabs says; you put the pump laser function in the central office, where you already have power, shoot the pump laser light down the network on one of the PON wavelengths, and have passive amplification units that leverage the pump to amplify the surrounding wavelengths.
If it works, Tellabs thinks they can find more applications for it beyond SARDANA. I bet they can too.
VCs: Consolidation effects may not be significant
June 13, 2008
Posted by Stephen Hardy
While researching an article I'm doing for our July issue on the current funding environment, I've been talking to VCs about whether their community's ongoing lack of enthusiasm for the optical communications space (when it comes to photonics, it's all about green technology, photovoltaics, and sold-state lighting these days, they say) and the hostile IPO environment might finally drive consolidation, particularly in the components and subsystems space. It might, they say -- but some wonder whether the sector will see as much benefit as we've all assumed.
That's because most of the observers whose opinions on consolidation we hear about are focused on Western companies. Yes, moves such as the Finisar/Optium merger should be good for the industry. Indeed, other well-known companies will be looking to M&A; to increase their scale or broaden their product lines, taking smaller companies off the board.
But while the number of Western companies may start shrinking, the number of companies in the East, particularly in China and India, continues to grow. They're looking to be the next Fiberxon or Opnext, I'm hearing.
The trend may mean that the total number of companies in components and subsystems may not change much at all in the short term -- and the new entrants will be focusing on low-cost approaches that may continue to put margin pressure on the entire sector.
One VC described the phenomenon quite apply, I thought: "Scary."
Opnext shopping for 40G/100G?
May 30, 2008
Posted by Stephen Hardy
As reported by Morgan Keegan's Paul Bonenfant, Opnext President and CEO Harry Bosco yesterday morning told the audience at Cowen and Company's 20/20 TMT Conference in New York that the reason he hasn't executed a previously announced stock buy back is that he's "looking at different things" now that the acquisition price for companies has come down. In particular, he said, he's looking at high-end optics, specifically 40G and 100G module and technology companies. "Some are small and some are fairly significant," he said.
Bonenfant identified Mintera and StrataLight as the two most prominent companies of interest. He believes a StrataLight acquisition is more likely, given the fact that JDSU has invested in Mintera. The fact that StrataLight supplies technology to Nokia Siemens Networks, as does Opnext, doesn't hurt either.
One company that Bonenfant didn't mention that Opnext also might be looking at is CoreOptics. The company is already active in 40G development as well as coherent detection technology for 100G. (See my May 15 blog posting below.) The fact that the OIF has decided to build its 100G DWDM implentation agreement around dual-polarization quadrature phase-shift keying with coherent detection indicates that CoreOptics is moving in the right direction for 100G.
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