ECOC Exhibition Day One Round-Up

24th September 2018

Rome’s Fiera di Roma saw a buzz of activity today, as the 23rd annual ECOC Exhibition kicked off, covering some of the most talked about topics from the field of optical communications. The sell-out crowd was treated to a variety of innovative product demos, with many exhibitors breaking major news stories directly from the exhibition floor.

The Consortium for On-Board Optics (COBO) is hosting the global premiere of the world’s first COBO-compliant optical modules at its stand (#608), with solutions from Molex, Ciena and SENKO, TE Connectivity, Credo, and AOI giving a glimpse into next-generation system architectures which mount on-board optical modules to printed circuit boards.

A live demonstration is also taking place at the Ethernet Alliance booth (#618). The interoperability demonstration showcases live traffic-utilizing 50G and 400G PAM4-based optical transceivers in OEM equipment. Live traffic will be passed among the equipment of Ethernet Alliance member companies including Exfo, Huawei, Ixia, Spirent and Viavi, while Source Photonics has contributed its 400GBASE-LR8 transceivers in QSFP-DD and CFP8 form factor, as well as its 50GBASE-LR QSFP28 modules.

Fujikura Europe used the exhibition to unveil for the first time a new wireless smart splicing solution, the 41S, which will dramatically speed up installation times and significantly lower costs for operators. The new 41S is designed for FTTX, data centre, LAN and access applications which, with the addition of capability to deliver accurate core splice loss estimations, is a significant new edge for the product.

The Market Focus sessions also drew plenty of attention, with a session by Xi Wang, Senior Director Product Marketing at Inphi, the first of ten speakers to take to the stage. Wang looked at how the use of Digital Signal Processor, DSP-based 28Gbaud and 56Gbaud PAM4 electronics with linear amplifiers and drivers is enabling cohesive and software intelligent platform solutions.

Facebook was next up and Director of Engineering Katharine Schmidtke gave insight into open packet optical architectures for next-generation data centres. Continuing the data centre theme, Dr Sanjai Parthasarathi, Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, at II-VI Inc highlighted what’s fast becoming a hot topic – disaggregation – and explained the challenges and opportunities presented in this environment.

COBO President Brad Booth then looked to the future, stressing the importance of 400-gigabit and 800- gigabit data rates in enabling innovative technologies such as 5G, AI, and the IoT. For this, Booth said, it will be essential for equipment manufacturers to adopt onboard optics and for the industry to come together to create globally adopted standards in this area.

Fibre became the focus for the afternoon sessions, with the FTTH Council and Corning both presenting.

Not surprisingly, 5G was high on the agenda, with Supriyo Dey, Senior Director Product Line Management at Source Photonics, stressing the need for a robust Mobile Network Architecture to cope with the immense potential of the technology.

“While an exciting era of unprecedented opportunity is almost here in the shape of 5G, it comes with a huge set of challenges for the whole industry,” said Dey. “The advent of this technology is undeniably huge, but there’s a real challenge for those who are hungry to develop its capabilities to match their expectations in terms of performance.”

Ericsson also chose to centre its presentation around 5G, considering the role of optical technology as an enabler for the technology.

With both the Market Focus and exhibition floor buzzing on this first day, exhibitors such as Coherent Solutions are deeming ECOC 2018 to be a crucial meeting place for innovations in fibre optics: “For optical communications in Europe, there really is nowhere else to be!” said Andy Stevens, CEO at Coherent Solutions.

ECOC TV is back for 2018, with a full camera crew capturing all that’s happening around the exhibition. Every Market Focus session will be filmed in full, with the team also visiting the exhibition stands to hear what’s getting people talking.