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21 March 2012
The piece parts needed to build next-generation reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (ROADM) nodes are starting to arrive, judging from announcements at the recent OFC/NFOEC show in Los Angeles.

These new parts will enable new functionalities in future ROADM networks (see JDSU: Next-generation ROADM networks need new components ). Carriers want higher port counts to increase the number of directions supported at the node, and allow more channels to be added and dropped.  And as networks go to terabit speeds and beyond using superchannels, they will also need to adopt a flexible grid that accommodates variable spacings between optical channels.

JDSU is now sampling the products it talked about last year, including what it claims is the first twin 1x20 wavelength selective switch (WSS) device with flexible grid capability.  It also demonstrated a dual multi-cast switch that supports up to 8 degrees of optical switching and 16 transceiver ports; a quad optical channel monitor array, and an EDFA array in a compact module designed to compensate for losses in a complex ROADM node.
Other new product announcements included:
Nistica’s 15-port waveblocker array, which can be configured as a 1×15 WSS with 25 GHz channel spacing or flexible channel spacing with 5GHz granularity. 
A photonic integrated circuit-based multicast switch from NeoPhotonics, designed in a dual 8x16 configuration, offering 16 add and drop ports and accommodating up to 8 directions.
CoAdna introduced several products: 1×23 WSS with a flexible grid at 12.5GHz granularity; twin multicast switches in one package and tunable mux/demux for up to 96 channels at 50GHz.
Oclaro announced a 1×23 WSS with 200ms switching time, which it claims is the fastest in the industry; and a family of intra-node amplifiers.
“The ROADM showcase suggests component suppliers believe the next battleground is high port count and flexible grid,” commented Daryl Inniss, practice leader, components, at Ovum.
However, Ovum believes that the volume WSS market will continue to be at 1×9 for some time to come, even though suppliers are competitively targeting the full product suite.
By Pauline Rigby