ROADMs Instead of Metro 100G Systems?

March, 2015

At the OFC 2015 conference, one of the most highly respected network engineers in the business from Xtera Communications will be legitimately asking the question on a panel, “What on Earth is a ‘100G Metro System?’” Bill Szeto will be asserting that because 100G currently means a whole wavelength, there is nothing wrong serving the needs with just taking a 100-gig channel off of a ROADM (Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer). In doing so, it would also take care of the potential problems with stranded capacity that would occur in mesh networks as we outlined in a previous blog article. Bill will also argue that a so-called 100G metro system would provide no additional features/functionality. Also, there would be the avoidance of the issues today, such as with compatibility between different vendors' equipment at that data rate. Obviously, service providers would not want...

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Ciena’s New Obsession with Vertical Integration

February, 2016

Ciena’s purchase of several assets from TeraXion represents the first time that the system player has acquired just components as opposed to full systems from an outside vendor, symbolizing an evolving shift in philosophy over the last several years away from less of a reliance on merchant componentry suppliers to more internal development and construction. While large optical vendors in general have somewhat adopted vertical integration strategies as the market has moved to 100G and coherent technology, there seems to be a particularly higher degree of emphasis by Ciena on the practice in recent years, especially relating to added functionality on a chip set, which was apparently influenced by the purchase of the Nortel Networks division. However, a potential problem could be that the top leadership at the transmission equipment giant may be too lax about protecting its proprietary...

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AT&T's "Open ROADM": More Skepticism

April, 2016

In defiance of AT&T’s uniquely leviathan network involving layers of infrastructure built over many years, the service provider continues to promote further leading-edge concepts that would ostensibly change the fundamental nature of its cost structure as well as its spider web of operational entanglements. These major shifts have been projected to occur in an immense way a long way down the road, whether it was getting to all-IP by 2020 (somehow in 2012, all of the T1s would be expected to disappear and OTN would cease to becomes a reality), and in 2014, it projected that over 75% of its network would be software-centric by the end of the decade. AT&T’s latest scheme was introduced at OFC 2016, the "Open ROADM", and while also based on the notion of "software control," it brings in the idea of "open hardware" or Open Line Systems (OLS) in which Verizon, at the same conference,...

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Lumentum: Be Careful What You Wish For

May, 2016

Who could blame Lumentum Holdings for finding it desirable to move upstream in offering something close to full optical systems in order to generate higher margins? In some respects, the time to do so is somewhat optimal given the ex-JDSU’s historic position, particularly on the telecom side of the house. However, the level of competition that now exists, particularly with the hyperscale operators (including the growing amount of vertical integration by these companies) could make the move problematic for Lumentum. So, the amount of foreseeable opportunity for the firm could theoretically be greatest in supplying the service providers. However, while optimistically, there may be greenfield metro deployments with disaggregated elements supported by SDN, we maintain our strong reservations about the entire scheme of white boxes and Open Line Systems (OLS) involving public...

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CenturyLink Could be a Sleeper

October, 2016

When a typical industry observer thought of CenturyLink over the past several years, the following aspects probably came to mind: only a handful of major metropolitan areas that are a vast distance apart from each other, a large “independent telco” mindset, longer metro/regional networks that can require costlier equipment outlays, lots of rural customers in which it is difficult to provide broadband services, and not necessarily the most innovative service provider in the world. Without question, the reported merger with Level 3 would significantly transform the company. Yet, even before this story about the transaction, it seems now, notably in hindsight, there were significant signs that CenturyLink has been setting the table to be a different type of operator compared to how it has been positioned historically, as well as to possibly be highly differentiated from other carriers...

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