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July 1, 2016

ANGA COM Takeaway: Technologies That Are Enabling Increased Network Flexibility and Spectral Efficiency

GaylordHartBy Gaylord Hart

Director of MSO Market Segment

Recently I attended the ANGA COM Exhibition and Congress in Cologne, Germany, the largest broadband and cable conference in Europe and growing, with over 1800 attendees and 450 exhibitors from 89 countries this year. This conference continues to be a focal point for the international cable telecommunications community.

As always seems to be the case these days, much of the conference was focused on how operators can continue to increase broadband speeds and deal with the continuing explosion in bandwidth demand.  DOCSIS 3.1 was a major topic of discussion, but this year symmetrical DOCSIS was all the buzz, with its promise for radically increasing return path capacity and speed.

As part of the ANGA Congress technical session “FTTX – Stepping into the Gigabit Society,” I gave a presentation entitled “FlexGrid Optical Networks and Terabit Super-Channels.” The focus of my presentation was on increasing network flexibility and spectral efficiency by using flexible grid (FlexGrid) line systems and dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) terabit (T) super-channels. It’s not possible today to implement a terabit super-channel with just one or two waves due to constraints on silicon speed, so the fastest time to market and most practical approach will use a multi-carrier solution. Using 100 gigabit per second (100G) technology per constituent wave, implementing such super-channels is possible today.


However, the multi-carrier approach leads to increased complexity. A 1.2T super-channel, for example, will require 12 x 100G waves in the super-channel, and this represents a significant increase in component count and complexity, especially if implemented using discrete photonics. Fortunately, modern photonic integration technology solves this problem. Since a photonic integrated circuit (PIC) combines multiple discrete optical components as well as their optical interconnects on a single monolithic chip that is manufactured in a single cycle, most of the complexity and cost issues associated with multi-carrier super-channels goes away. And you not only end up with better density and reliability, but less heat and lower power consumption. The only practical approach to implementing multi-carrier super-channels is with photonic integration.


Perhaps the greatest advantage to multi-carrier super-channels is the flexibility they offer. By allowing each wave in the super-channel to be individually tuned and provisioned for modulation format, the 12 channel 1.2T super-channel used in the above example can be configured as a single super-channel (1 x 1.2T), three super-channels (3 x 400G, perfect for 400G Ethernet services), 12 individual channels, or any combination of these. This allows the individual super-channels or waves to be independently routed through the network where bandwidth is needed most, and provisioned by modulation format to optimize reach versus bandwidth as needed. It also allows the seamless evolution of networks as requirements change.

If you attended the event, you probably saw Infinera on the exhibition floor, displaying and demonstrating Infinera’s:

  • SDN-controlled configuration of Packet Optical L2 services and DRF (Distributed Routing Functions)
  • Industry-leading Cloud Xpress data center interconnect solution that connects sites up to 150 kilometers apart without amplification while delivering 500G of capacity in a 2 rack unit (44 millimeter) tall chassis
  • PT-Fabric for advanced Layer 2 switching and aggregation capabilities for our XTM Series packet-optical transport platforms

Next year’s ANGA COM, to be held May 30 through June 1, 2017, in Cologne, is sure to bring more interesting discussions on ways to address ever-increasing bandwidth needs. In the meanwhile, contact us if you’d like more information on multi-carrier super-channels and the flexibility they offer, or any of the products and solutions we showed off at ANGA COM.

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