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How OPEN ROADM is Transforming Optics

Jan 16th, 2017

Innovation and forward-thinking is a driving force in the telecommunications industry and recently AT&T has applied that ingenuity towards network switches. First announced in March 2016, AT&T wants to help light travel even faster. While this is an oversimplification, they are hoping to make it happen by forming OPEN ROADM.

Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexers (ROADMs) are hardware mechanisms that control and direct data traffic flowing through high-capacity fiber optic lines. In typical ROADMs, wavelengths of light travel through switches on a predetermined path that cannot be easily altered in cases of heavy congestion.

This is where software becomes critical. Using software controlled ROADMs, they can automatically adjust the bandwidth and divert traffic to a different wavelength. AT&T further adds that "software-controlled ROADMs can turn capacity up or down, route around trouble and come back online quickly when there's a failure."

The second important component is the hardware that reroutes the signals. Proprietary ROADMs are vendor-specific and basically not interoperable which ultimately slows down any kind of innovation.

By establishing the OPEN ROADM group, hardware specifications will become open source. According to OPEN ROADM the primary goal is to "drive towards faster pace innovation and competition, as well as increased volumes through mass adoption, coupled with optical layer flexibility and software control to overcome all the disadvantages of today's ROADM systems."

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