By C. David Chaffee, Chaffee Fiber Optics
The first keynote speaker at OSA's Executive Forum 2011, Basil Alwan, set an optimistic tone for both the Forum and OFC/NFOEC 2011, observing that the optical transport industry now is “really breathtaking.” He even went so far as to say “it is an honor to be associated with this industry at this time.” Alwan is president of the IP Division and Head of Portfolio Strategy for the Networks Groups.
What's so exciting? Well, for one thing the size of the network continues to grow as does the number of its endpoints, Alwan told a crowded Marriott conference room Monday morning. Caching also is a high growth storage application Alwan is excited about. “We are thrilled with the progress in 100 G,” he continued, “we are really pulling the rabbit out of the hat with 100 G.”
Alwan went on to say that 400 G is “achievable and practical,” and that a terabit “will be necessary.”
Perhaps giving insights into what Alcatel-Lucent's optical research involvement will be going forward, Alwan said “it is not an option to leave anything on the table any more. We can't ignore any options. Each one may be a silver bullet.”
In the first panel following Alwan's talk, Verizon's Glenn Wellbrock agreed with Alwan's assessment of the coming need for 100 G. The popular Wellbrock, who is speaking on some six panels this week, said optical transport routes between New York and Chicago, “deserve 100 G, probably several 100 G lines.”
A question that dominated the panel was how rapidly the network operator should move to IP optical using packet transport. While Google was seen as having the newer, next gen network, Wellbrock observed that any Google search or phone call is going through a Verizon or AT&T network at some point.
And Google Senior Network Architect Bikash Koley, also a member of the first panel, was deferential, observing that, “I think everyone would agree that we are moving to packet-based services.”
However, Koley also noted that “the biggest challenge for us is that a lot of the optical transport equipment that has been designed we don't need.” He acknowledged that “the way to overcome this” is for manufacturers to know what Google needs.
When we caught up with him afterwards, Koley said his comments related to the larger Google core optical transport network, not the 1 Gbps to the residence network the company has promised to bring to one or more communities. However, he did say Google was 'surprised” by the high number of vendors that responded to the 1 Gbps to the home solicitation once it was offered.
C. David Chaffee (email@example.com) owns Chaffee Fiber Optics, a Baltimore-based firm that specializes in analyzing developments in fiber optics and publishing on the state of the industry.