Day 1 – Monday 24th September

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 took place at the Ethernet Alliance booth (#618). The interoperability demonstration showcased live traffic-utilizing 50G and 400G PAM4-based optical transceivers in OEM equipment. Live traffic was passed among the equipment of Ethernet Alliance member companies including Exfo, Huawei, Ixia, Spirent and Viavi, while Source Photonics had 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. Highlights from the Market Focus sessions will be filmed, with the team also visiting the exhibition stands to hear what’s getting people talking.

And don’t forget to tweet your show highlights and take a photo of the giant ECOC18 letters by the entrance! Why not share your best selfie with us to mark your arrival at ECOC? Tag @Ecoc_Exhibition in your tweets or use #ECOC18.

As well as your tweets you can also keep up to date with the ECOC social media squad on Instagram (#ECOC18). We will share the best bits throughout the show on the @ECOC_Exhibition feed and look forward to meeting you over the coming days!

  • ECOC is the biggest show in Europe as far as we are concerned, the exhibition gives us the opportunity to show our current and potential customers what we do, as well as acting as a meeting point for the entire industry.

    Ward Williams, CEO of ProLabs

  • This year’s event seems massively pumped up – there are a lot of new faces around. The market is moving very quickly, companies are having to respond to it and we are seeing that innovation here at ECOC.

    Max Penfold, Sales Manager Europe, Deviser

Day 2 – Tuesday 25th September

Picking up where we left off after a successful opening day at ECOC 2018 yesterday, the sunshine-soaked Fiera de Roma continued to welcome thousands of visitors through its doors. And for those searching for the next technological revolution, there was plenty to see.

Global innovator in optical and electrical connectivity, HUBER+SUHNER was among exhibitors launching new solutions, with its new range of Polatis high-density latching protection switches for wireless and metro networks being debuted. The Series 6500 range of high-density latching protection service switches add an autonomous optical layer of 1+1, 1:1 and 2×2 bypass protection to multiple duplex services in a compact form factor.

The company is also presenting its latest extensions to the Series 6000 Ultra range of transparent optical switches for system test and high-performance applications, now with the capability to extend up to 96×96 ports with typical optical loss of just 0.6dB. Enabling even greater flexibility in test lab and monitoring networks, the new 384xCC optical circuit switch doubles the matrix size available in single-sided, any-fibre-to-any-fibre all-optical cross-connect.

Meanwhile, NeoPhotonics showcased its suite of lasers and analog Integrated Circuits (ICs) for uncooled, non-hermetic single laser 100G and 4 laser 400G links within data centres. The product suite includes Electro-Absorptively Modulated Lasers (EML) for 2km PAM4-based links and high-power CW laser sources for 0.5 and 2 km Silicon Photonics based links, along with the photodetectors, drivers and trans-impedance amplifiers required.

Tuesday’s Market Focus was also action-packed, featuring no less than 12 sessions covering subjects from photonics integration to optical network agility. First on the agenda for Day 2 was a much-anticipated session on ‘Photonics integration and digital silicon photonics’, which began with sessions presented by Intel, Lightwave Logic and xPIXfab.

Director of Fraunhofer HHI Martin Schnell explored InP solutions for intra-datacentre connects by highlighting the ability of a single 3” wafer of iridium phosphide lasers to transfer the entire worldwide IP traffic. Ciena’s presentation followed, given by Patricia Bower, Senior Manager, Portfolio Marketing, who drew the audience’s attention to state-of-the-art high performance coherent in complementary metal oxide semiconductors, (CMOS).

The morning sessions ended with Pauline Rigby of LightCounting Market Research, asking attendees where they saw developments in vertical-cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs) taking the industry over the next few years.

The afternoon sessions saw global giant Microsoft take to the stage, with an insightful session presented by Optical Network Architect Mark Filer as part of the Optical Network Agility/Software Defined Networks track. Telefonica hosted a session during the afternoon, with ECOC veterans Infinera, Juniper and NeoPhotonics also speaking.

Michael Zammit, VP and GM of Go!Foton Corporation, urged operators to look beyond “outdated methods” and utilize more versatile data centre infrastructure management solutions to control rising energy costs and complex data processing. He highlighted how the horizon is rapidly changing as further complications in data centres begin to arise – from power and cooling factors, to rack space and central processing unit availability.

The mood is good among exhibitors, with many singing ECOC’s praises and enjoying the unique southern European location of Rome.

Doug Busch, Vice President and General Manager, Optical Solutions, at key sponsor and exhibitor Molex, said: “ECOC is perfect for us as it simply brings together some of our most important optical customers, especially from Europe, to one central place.”

Off-site, the Consortium for On-Board Optics, (COBO), used the stunning backdrop of the Vatican to announce a new partnership with the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC). The partnership was signed by Brad Booth, Chair of COBO, backed by its board of directors, in order to bring COBO closer to manufacturers and designers in Europe. The new partnership will give EPIC the opportunity to explore further adoption of COBO into its manufacturing, research and design processes.

ECOC TV was also back in action for Day 2, speaking to exhibitors and being wowed by some fascinating demonstrations! If you see the film crew pass by make sure you say hello and let us know how the show is going for you so far.

If you haven’t had your chance in front of the camera yet don’t worry, you can tell us all about your experience at ECOC on social media by using hashtag #ECOC18 in your posts. Why not also tag us at @ECOC_Exhibition on Twitter and Instagram so we can share the buzz and look ahead to another packed day tomorrow!


Day 3 – Wednesday 26th September

As the final day of ECOC 2018 got under way, discussions centred around 5G, the role of data centres and optical transport readiness, closing out another successful year of the exhibition and the Market Focus, with more than 6,500 visitors and exhibitors coming together.

First-time exhibitor and newly formed 100G Lambda Multisource Agreement (MSA) Group, made its ECOC debut, surrounded on its stand by several of its key promoter and contributing companies, also exhibiting in Rome. With recent specifications for data centres being discussed at the stand and significant developments in the industry anticipated in the very near future, the 100G Lambda MSA’s appearance looks set to be a regular addition to the optical trade show calendar.

“This is the first time for us at ECOC representing the 100G Lambda MSA,” said Ed Ulrichs, speaking on behalf of the 100G Lambda MSA. “As advances continue in data centres at a rapid rate there will be an even greater need for us to come together to exhibit in this way, especially surrounded by our partners and contributors.”

Over at Market Focus, the first of the four morning speakers took to the stage to define three segments of the optical components market, a current area of focus for Ovum. Market data for telecom, datacom and access segments were central to Ovum Principal Analyst Lisa Huff’s presentation, with a focus on how optics will enable 5G wireless, data centre, high-speed telecom and PON.

Market Focus attendees also enjoyed hearing BT’s take on optical metro networks in a 5G world, with Andrew Lord, Head of Optical Networks at BT, stressing the need for edge data centres and explaining why disaggregation is required. Rounding up the morning were presentations given by Finisar and Adva, both of which looked to the future; Finisar explored pluggability for multi-Tb/s data centre interconnects and Adva studied what’s next for coherent technologies.

The final five Market Focus sessions featured insightful presentations from speakers representing global giants Cisco, Huawei, NTT, China Mobile and CESNET. Cisco broached a current hot topic in telecoms – networking and transport infrastructure – with Mauro Macchi, IP Optical Data Center Business Development, providing analysis of optical transport readiness for 400/600Gbs. China Mobile shifted the crowd’s attention towards Ultra High Definition (UHD) live video, addressing packet loss and explaining how its real-world network trials are helping combat jitter.

Second-time exhibitor at ECOC, Srico, a specialist in the use of electro-optics, non-linear optics and ferroelectrical materials to create innovative optical chip-based products, has experienced a busy few days, with high numbers of visitors coming to its stand each day.

“We have been so pleased with how well things have gone for us here in Rome,” said Judith C. Sriram, Vice President at Srico. “What’s been especially impressive has been the well-designed layout of the exhibition hall. We already know that the research and development contacts we seek are here and with the effective stand positioning at the same time we’ve certainly had a productive time here!”

As the sun sets in Rome at the end of another spectacular exhibition, enquiries for next year’s event which will take place in the Irish capital city, Dublin, are already being taken. And, you can still share your post-show success stories on social media by tagging in @ECOC_Exhibition or using #ECOC18 on Instagram and Facebook.

For all the highlights and interviews from this year’s show, keep an eye on the website ( and follow the Twitter feed @ECOC_Exhibition. See you next year!