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15th January 2013
Flexible switching of high-capacity traffic carried over superchannel wavelengths is the goal of the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) research project.
The €3.6 million project, FOX-C (Flexible Optical Cross-Connect Nodes), will develop a flexible ROADM for 400Gbps and one terabit optical transmission, able to switch a superchannel and its carrier constituent components. Companies involved in the project include operator France Telecom and optical component player Finisar.
“It is becoming more difficult to increase the spectral efficiency of such networks,” said Erwan Pincemin, senior expert in fibre-optic transmission at France Telecom-Orange. “We want to increase the advantages of the network by adding flexibility in the management of the wavelengths in order to adapt the network as services evolve.” 
FOX-C will increase the data rate carried by each wavelength to achieve a moderate increase in spectral efficiency using such modulation schemes as orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) and Nyquist WDM. But the main goal is to develop a flexible, energy-efficient and cost-effective ROADM design. 
The ROADM’s filters will be able to add and drop 10 and 100-Gbps subchannels or 400-Gbps and 1-Tbps superchannels. By using the developed filtering to switch optically at speeds as low as 10 Gbps, the aim is to avoid having to do the switching electrically with its associated cost and power consumption overhead. “We want to transfer to the optical layer the switching capability,” said Pincemin.  
The project started in October 2012 and will span three years. The resulting system testing will take place at France-Telecom Orange's Lab in Lannion, France.
The Athens Institute of Technology is the project technical leader. Besides France Telecom-Orange and Finisar, other project players include Optronics Technologies, The Hebrew University, W-Onesys, Aston University, Tyndall National Institute and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.
By Roy Rubenstein