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OFC 2019 closes with focus on 800G optical links, 'real-world' 5G

14 Mar 2019

Expo showcased technical research, many new commercial solutions, plus live multivendor demonstrations.

The global optical communications community last week assembled in San Diego for the latest edition of Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exhibition (OFC). This year’s event highlighted the market’s hot topics in a range of standing-room only business and technical sessions; technology and product demonstrations and announcements from the world’s leading companies.

There were plenary talks that explored open networks, communications between self-driving cars, and optical integration for higher data rates; and dynamic presentations on real-world 5G deployments and network build-outs.

Gabriella Bosco, Politecnico di Torino, Italy, and OFC 2019 General Chair, commented, “Whether you’re working in data centers, telecom networks or access networks, all optical technologies for communications are presented at OFC.”

“As our world becomes increasingly more connected, the optical communications infrastructure that supports it needs to evolve to be more robust and efficient, and at the same time, cost-effective. The industry gathers at OFC to debate these business challenges and identify potential technical solutions to meet customer demands.”

This year’s expo welcomed nearly 15,400 attendees from around the world to look at new opportunities and push the boundaries of innovation; the show featured 683 exhibitors. The annual OFC exhibition serves as a platform for important industry announcements, including developments in coherent DWDM networking, silicon photonics and 400ZR advancements.

“OFC is the place to make major announcements because the whole industry comes together,” commented Yves LeMaitre, Chief Strategy Officer at Lumentum. “Whether you’re working in data centers, telecom networks or access networks, all optical technologies for communications are here.”

OFC 2019 also showcased technical research and a wide range of new commercial solutions (see below). For example, several live multivendor interoperability demonstrations took place on the exhibit floor, including: Coherent Transceiver Interoperability, Ethernet Alliance, OIF and Open ROADM MSA SDN.

Emerging trends

Technologies from approximately 40 companies were featured in these demos, including: 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), 25GbE, 50GbE, 100GbE, 400GbE; Open Source Open ROADM SDN Controller; pluggable CFP2-ACO and CFP2-DCO modules; and Common Electrical I/O (CEI)-112G, FlexE (Flex Ethernet) and 400ZR.

“The sessions, panels and demonstrations at OFC impress me every year,” said Woo Jin Ho, technology analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

“Vendors continue to push the envelope on driving higher transmission rates in smaller form factors. Key emerging trends to look out for the industry and vendors based on the conference include 600G/800G optics and systems and 400ZR for the hyperscale cloud data centers.”

Technical vision

The OFC’s conference content, which included more than 450 peer-reviewed papers, 180 invited and tutorial presentations, 10 workshops, six panels and 55 short courses, focused on the latest discoveries. For example, technological breakthroughs in data center connectivity, 5G and IoT.

“From solving the open network challenge to advances in modulation formats and the move toward faster optical interface speeds, the discussions at OFC this week explored what’s happening now, what will be possible in the near-term, and where we need to head in the long-term,” continued Bosco.

“Next year at OFC, we expect to see samples of 400G ZR, with deployment coming later in the year,” predicts Benny Mikkelsen, Chief Technology Officer, Acacia Technologies and conference plenary speaker (Watch him speaking in the OFC Video, below). “OFC is a great opportunity to get people together to have a fruitful discussion.” OFC 2020 will again be held in San Diego, between 8-12 March.

Key launches

With the following links, below, optics.org reviews a selection of this year's optical communications system launches and presentations from the OFC exhibition:

Iridian Spectral TechnologiesCeNing Optics Co LtdLaCroix Precision OpticsMad City Labs, Inc.TRIOPTICS GmbHBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.
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