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Looking ahead: Optical networking's big year

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Update time : 2023-01-12 10:58:24

Nearly every tech trend worth chasing in 2023 will depend on fast connectivity, and optical networking will be somewhere in the mix.

Fiber optics provide greater bandwidth, security and reliability than any other medium. But there are a lot of moving parts across the optical networking landscape. Here are some optical networking trends some analysts said they will watch in 2023.

Pluggable optics (everywhere)


Heavy Reading's optical networking analyst Sterling Perrin sees "pluggable optics everywhere" being a dominant theme. "This includes the continuing trends in 400ZR and ZR+ but also a big focus on migrating down to small coherent 100G pluggables, pluggables across 5G XHaul networks, and pluggables in PON," he writes in a note to Light Reading.

Data center transmission


Lisa Huff, Omdia's senior principal analyst covering optical components will keep an eye out for whether 800G and 1.6T transmission will show up next in data centers. "We are in the middle of 400G deployment inside the data center and, as always, there is much hype around what the next data rate will be," she writes.

"Omdia expects to see 2x400G and 8x100G solutions start to be deployed inside the data center in 2023, but we will not see high-volume deployment until about 2025 when DR4 and FR4 variants mature and 400G starts to slow down," she writes. Deployments of 1.6T may start in 2026, but Huff said it might be 2027 or later before we see significant volume.

Next-gen DSPs


Recessions usually depress volumes of optical transport systems sold, but Dell'Oro VP Jimmy Yu said 2023 could be different following so many supply chain issues. "In 2023, we believe supply shortages will ease, allowing for more system shipments and higher revenues for the manufacturers," Yu writes.

Yu expects Ciena and Infinera to announce their next-gen coherent digital signal processing (DSP) plans. "Cisco has already announced a 1.2 Tbit/s coherent DSP to be available in 2023. We still have not heard from Ciena and Infinera," Yu writes.

Coherent routing

Finally, Omdia Senior Principal Analyst Timothy Munks said that with data traffic growing at the network's edge, network operators are looking for better solutions to collect and move that data into metro and core networks.

"The convergence of IP and optical, or coherent routing, provides cost-effective aggregation and transport of diverse traffic streams and offers network operators a pure pay-as-you-grow business model for adding capacity," he writes.


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