Additional Upshots at Dublin Optics Show

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As a complementary piece to our last article, “Throwing Down the Gauntlet at ECOC 2019,” we provide some other final thoughts on the conference, including the following 10 points:

1. While switching, particularly the all-optical variety, has never taken off in a big way, it was most conspicuously mentioned by Microsoft, as a portion of a very short presentation focused on a general cross-disciplinary approach with developments in the cloud. Actually, the operator brought up the concept of an extremely quick wavelength router it has touted in the past as it probably thought it had nothing to lose by mentioning it to a big crowd of optics engineers. It was then discussed by Mellanox Technologies in relationship to higher bandwidth being enabled at Web 2.0 companies with such scalable devices. Later, Glenn Wellbrock, from Verizon mentioned the use of a photonic switch in trials involving deployed fiber being used as a distributed sensor (in collaboration with NEC). Nevertheless, as characterized at OFC 2019, fibeReality would hardly encourage getting carried away by a big takeoff in the marketplace anytime soon with such gear.

2. Speaking of Wellbrock’s presentation, undoubtedly the most important aspect of such capabilities, which was left towards the end, would be taking advantage of the sensing capabilities as a bargaining chip to achieve easier rights of way with metropolitan areas.

3. Nokia Networks seemed to be noticeably absent from any great involvement with the conference, which inevitably leads to the conclusion that exiting from the space, including the possible use of unconventional means, is of high importance to the corporation. However, we thought that its Market Focus talk was well-done, and appreciated the frank remark that the ITU-T overlooking 25G PON was a mistake, as well as the potential benefits of WDM-PON in the fronthaul.

4. They were definitely two ships passing in the night, as they were addressed on separate days of the event, but they symbolized extraordinary political implications: Cisco’s Mark Nowell pitching the QSFP-DD800 MSA representing mainly the West (principally the US) and then at the end of a Huawei Technologies talk on network intelligence, promotion of the 800G Pluggable MSA, targeted principally for the East (mainly involving China).

5. While it does not change fibeReality’s tremendously negative stance on COBO, we pride ourselves on our honesty. We noticed that the onboard optics booth was getting heavy traffic during a downtime on the floor. In addition, at the beginning, the COBO meetings provided a benefit, particularly for smaller firms, to accomplish some networking with other suppliers throughout the supply chains. Nonetheless, the idea that Ciena has to pretend to support the MSA and devote any resources to a needless concept like “COhOBO” is as much of joke as the acronym. Instead of building an ecosystem for COBO, which provided no benefits to the industry, it should have been vitally important to make sure that the general datacom optics ecosystem remained intact.

6. Evidently, without Russia, the FTTH Council Europe would not have much to rave about regarding accomplishments.

7. While we had a little fun with Viavi Solutions being in an advantageous position as a test equipment supplier, its communication to the industry deserved a greater priority at Market Focus. More attendees should have heard just the impact of dealing with always errored links, which comes with a higher order of modulation.

8. We still do not get the non-stop, love affair with public-private partnerships in Europe, as the return on investment seems rather underwhelming. At ECOC 2019, one learned about the Quantum Flagship and the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure, both projects over multiple years. Yet, the Googles, which came about with more of a free-market situation, continue to be punished by the European Union, and the continent cannot gain access to many of the important technical journals across industries because of the misguided GDPR rules.

9. fibeReality would not be surprised to see ECOC cease to happen within five years. Although we understand that the lack of adequate organization as well as accommodating infrastructure was even worse in Rome last year, it is hard to understand why the modern Convention Centre Dublin was not considered, unless it was just to save money. The surrounding hotels could have been used to provide extra space, if necessary. Instead, with the Market Focus Sessions alone, within the Royal Dublin Society, speakers were sweating bullets when the outside temperature increased, and the print on the slides were hard to see when it was sunny, given that the roofs were made out of plastic sheets. In a big meeting hall, a slew of people would walk in during a session, and then later walk out, creating a distraction during the proceedings. The worst part is that we have heard that Dublin is being unfairly made the scapegoat for the shortcomings, which are too numerous to list here.

10. With the caveat that fibeReality is an active corporate member of EPIC, we believe that this organization will ultimately and quickly assume the full role as the indispensable representative for European photonics. It will help guard against optical companies on the continent getting squeezed out in the ongoing battle between the US and China in providing valuable assistance in establishing meaningful partnerships across the globe. EPIC will also continue to revolutionize the ways conferences are conducted by inviting and encouraging different points of view, which will lead to more interesting and practical dialog among participants and attendees.

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As always, fibeReality does not recommend any securities, and this writer does not invest in any companies being analyzed by us.

[written by Mark Lutkowitz]