Bridging the Cloud and Futuristic Optical Networking in 2022

Bridging the Cloud and Futuristic Optical Networking in 2022

Enterprise Networking Mag | Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Last year has been a tough one, but it has also highlighted the value of the networks in the areas of entertainment, education, employment, physical and emotional well-being, and the well-being of others.

FREMONT, CA: In a report published by ACG Research in 2021, service providers were asked to estimate capacity's compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in various network segments until 2025. The results ranged from 39 to 46 percent for home broadband and submarine networks. High traffic growth has been the norm throughout the last two years of the pandemic, and these data suggest that this pattern will persist beyond the pandemic's immediate effects. The year 2022 forecasts are predicated on traffic growth—service providers must increase networking capacity and evolve their networks to keep up with traffic growth, which doubles every two years on average. They will leverage new technology and approaches in optical networking to accomplish this.


Coherent DWDM optical technology uses greater baud rates, advanced modulation algorithms (such as 64 QAM or quadrature amplitude modulation), and digital signal processing to deliver higher data transmission speeds, similar to wireless networks. In contrast, direct-detect optical transmission technology uses intensity-modulated on/off keying to send a data stream as a series of binary ones or zeros and does not require complex digital signal processing. Using direct-detection technology, pluggable form factors, such as SFP/SFP+, can transmit 10G and 25G DWDM optical signals over tens of kilometers. Consequently, it is typical for the network's access edge to employ direct-detect pluggable optical technology and for the metro optical network to serve as the entry point for coherent DWDM utilization.

While direct-detect technology will continue to dominate in the near future, service providers will begin planning to introduce coherent DWDM pluggable optics at the access edge by 2022. As capacity growth continues, 10G/25G interfaces will be replaced by 100G interfaces at the network access edge for 5G radios, broadband fiber, and cable access networks. This shift will facilitate the migration of coherent DWDM pluggable optics from the metro to the access edge. Emerging technologies such as XR optics, which allow several 100G pluggable optics to communicate directly and simultaneously with a single 400G or 800G high-speed optic, are designed to keep costs down and provide flexible and efficient bandwidth use at the network's edge. By using 25G digital subcarriers, XR optics enable up to 16 x 25G connections to a single high-speed optic—thereby allowing a point-to-multipoint architecture over fiber pairs or single-fiber working. It can eliminate intermediate electrical aggregation and lessen the number of pluggable optics by nearly 50 percent, thereby decreasing the total cost of ownership by more than 70 percent.


With compatibility for CFP-2 and QSFP-DD packages, 400G pluggable optical engines have significantly improved their optical performance while decreasing power and space. While 400G ZR is well-defined to serve extremely particular activities, such as point-to-point data center connectivity at 120 km or fewer, 400G ZR+ has a larger set of capabilities and use cases, depending on the vendor or ecosystem involved. In 2022, entrepreneurs anticipate service providers to discover and test use cases for 400G ZR+ pluggables. Still, they believe the ramp will be slower than previously expected, and the majority of early deployments will involve optical networking equipment rather than routers. In the near future, 400G ZR+ pluggables with higher transmit power (for example, 0 dBm against -10 dBm for 400G ZR) are suited for numerous applications, such as metro transport with an increased number of ROADM cascades, will be available in the CFP-2 form factor. The larger CFP-2 package can potentially improve optical performance, but it reduces router faceplate density, which will result in a greater number of deployments of compact modular optical platforms than in routing. Additional innovations such as subcarrier-based XR optics, higher levels of vertical integration, and the use of indium phosphide substrates for pluggables will continue to enhance the capabilities of QSFP-DD pluggables. It also includes the delivery of higher launch power and performance, which will eventually increase router adoption.

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