March 8, 2012
The IEEE Talks Fiber
With broadband communication demands rapidly growing around the world, engineering members from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest technical professional association, are identifying areas in the optical fiber and telecommunications industry that could be affected by advances in the consumption of data and the requirements for increased speed.
Although fiber capacity demonstrations recently have reached the milestone of transmitting 100 terabits of data per second through a single optical fiber, based on traffic growth trends, fiber capacity will need to stretch even further to meet the escalating demand being created by enterprises and consumers around the world.
“Current data center technologies and architectures will be unable to cope with the rapidly increasing traffic volume, and will have to evolve to accommodate higher bandwidth and better energy efficiency,” says Dr. Leonid Kazovsky, an IEEE Fellow and professor at Stanford University. “At the same time, the rest of the network will need to evolve as well.”
He continues, “So, we must look into future technologies, architectures and infrastructure options that can effectively create ‘express lanes’ for large amounts of traffic, the same way express lanes on our highways allow high occupancy vehicles to get to their destinations more quickly.”
Experts note the dramatic rise in the viewing and access of video content will be a main driver of optical fiber innovation and deployment in the next several years – not only in the provisioning of the network but within the data center itself.
According to Ori Gerstel, an IEEE Fellow and principal engineer at Cisco in Israel, “The emergence of new data centers, changes in peering arrangements and the rise of new over-the-top (OTT) players are creating reduced predictability of traffic in the network. Video content provided by OTT providers like YouTube, Netflix and Hulu and peer-to-peer file sharing networks dramatically affect traffic patterns and are therefore driving the need for a more agile and simplified optical-fiber network.”
Bandwidth Demands, Access Networks
Other engineering experts cite the bandwidth demands of consumers and enterprises as the priority issue for optical-communications engineers to address.
“Though fragmented right now, we see next-generation optical access driving the network consolidation of residential and business services,” comments Jun Shan Wey, an IEEE Senior Member and standards manager/Industry Environment in the CTO Office at Nokia Siemens Networks. “From a global perspective, Asia is really driving this. Taiwan’s government for example, is talking about giving people 1G broadband access in their homes, access which had only been previously offered to businesses.”
Kazovsky and other industry leaders believe that one of the most important topics for attendees to address during the OFC/NFOEC conference in Los Angeles next week is access networks and the integration with wireless networks.
“Optical access networks are especially important, and wireless networks are important as well; even more important is integration between the two,” he explains. “Some years from now, the role of copper will be much smaller than it is today, and future networks will rely mostly on fiber and wireless technologies. That is more or less a given. But how that will come and how optical and wireless technologies will be integrated in the future remains an open question. Substantial investments will be made in these fields, and this is an area that needs to be watched very closely. One thing is clear: companies that make the right bet will flourish.”
Concludes IEEE President and CEO Gordon Day, "Advances in optical-fiber technology are increasingly affecting global business operations and consumers’ ability to have rapid access to high-quality content. New developments in optical-fiber technology discussed at OFC/NFOEC promise to deliver incredible advances in how the world communicates and collaborates in the years ahead."