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January 31, 2024

Navigating the Optical Horizon: Trends Shaping the Future of Optical Networking in 2024

Optical Networking

In the ever-evolving landscape of optical networking, 2024 promises to be a pivotal year marked by transformative trends that will shape the industry’s trajectory. From increased adoption of XGS-PON in FTTH networks and the move to DOCSIS 4.0 (and beyond) in HFC networks to efforts to maximize the opportunities presented by coherent 400ZRx optics and IP-over-DWDM (IPoDWDM), this year will see network operators in need of more systems engineering and integration support than ever. And we at Precision OT are ready to support them with innovative solutions and deep-seated expertise in interoperability and system integration.  Let’s explore the top three trends influencing optical networking right now.

1. Embracing Openness in Optical Networking: Paving the Way for More Efficient PON Deployments

The demand for fiber-based connectivity in rural communities is on the rise, and Passive Optical Network (PON) technology has emerged as the go-to solution. The Prysmian Group projects that, by 2027, 82 million American households will enjoy FTTH services. That’s almost double the number of households in 2023. Similarly, Light Reading’s Heavy Reading Fall 2022 study found that 87% of network operators surveyed indicated that they plan to use FTTP networks to bridge the digital gap in their areas of service.

The challenge? Vendor-lock, long lead times and integration complexities can impede the efficient and economical deployment of PON, especially XGS-PON, which Dell’Oro believes will become the dominant technology across residential FTTH networks by 2025. In response, network operators are increasingly seeking more open PON ecosystems to enhance the speed and economics of bridging the digital divide through FTTH architectures.

Precision OT’s OpenPath™ emerges as a game-changer in this landscape. By leveraging a white-box hardware model, this comprehensive, turnkey solution (covering everything from OLTs and ONUs to controller software) delivers Multiple System Operators (MSOs) and service providers unmatched ease, flexibility and efficiency in deploying and managing PON networks. OpenPath™ not only mitigates the hurdles posed by vendor-lock but also makes it simple for network operators to upgrade to future PON technologies as required. Learn all about OpenPath™ and its amazing convergence capabilities here.

2. DOCSIS 4.0 and Beyond: HFC Network Operators Evolving Towards a 25G World within Optical Networking

As the PON FTTH sector advances beyond 10 Gbps (to 25 and even 50 Gbps services), HFC network operators face the challenge of keeping pace. The rollout of DOCSIS 4.0, with its remarkable downstream and upstream capacities, promises to meet the growing demands of bandwidth-intensive applications. However, it also represents a sizeable tasking of the optical network, especially for dense deployments.

A fully loaded, Extended Spectrum DOCSIS (1.8 GHz) device will need as much as 25 Gbps going to it to support the bandwidth demand from end-users. Add to that an eventual pathway for 3 GHz, 25G ESD DOCSIS 4.0, and it’s clear that the shift to 25 Gbps in HFC networks is already becoming critical. That’s where the trouble begins, however, due to the 25G optic and link distance performance trade-off.

When it comes to 25G optics, chromatic dispersion limits link distance to 10 to 15km unless network engineers use specialized equipment. For HFC operators, that means spending more capital on such equipment or making significant changes to their network architecture. Once again, we’ve stepped in with a solution. Through our proprietary Genesee™ Dispersion Compensation ASIC-enabled (application-specified integrated circuit) technology, we’ve enabled a cutting-edge, 25G tunable module that enables users to reach distances of 40km and beyond without needing specialized equipment. Given a 4.0 diamond rating by the 2023 Broadband Technology Report’s Diamond Technology Reviews, this optic can be a key enabler of DOCSIS 4.0 and 25 Gbps in HFC networks. It’s a solution that can keep HFC operators competitive in an ever-evolving landscape.

3. IPoDWDM Resurgence: Seizing Opportunities with Advanced 400ZRx Optics

As we noted in a recent blog, one of the best advantages of 400ZR (including OpenZR+ and 400ZRx variants) is the enablement of IPoDWDM. Historically, network operators have not had an easy time adopting 400ZRx optics because of difficulties with launch power, the challenges they pose to network operations and a lack of support for third-party pluggables in Network Equipment Manufacturer (NEM) hosts. Times have changed, however, bringing IPoDWDM adoption back into the forefront.

With higher TX output powers (OpenZR+ modules are now coming out with TX output powers up to +4 bDm), the rise of an interoperable 400ZR ecosystem, and newer NEM software releases that have increased support for third-party pluggable optics, network operators have a pathway to greater IPoDWDM adoption in 2024 and beyond. That said, the convergence of transport and IP functions brought about by IPoDWDM is resulting in network operators’ demand for a new set of management tools that can handle all the capabilities and operational requirements of 400ZRx and IPoDWDM adoption.

Reliability, Systems Engineering Expertise and Interoperability Key to a Successful 2024

At Precision OT, we’re always leveraging our systems engineering, integration expertise and proven track record in manufacturing high-quality optics to guide network operators through their deployments and upgrades. Our solutions, from the revolutionary OpenPath™ for PON networks to the cutting-edge Genesee™ ASIC to our high-quality, fully interoperable 400ZR and OpenZR+ optics, can help network operators on their transformative journeys to reimagine the possibilities of optical networking in 2024 and beyond.

Do you have questions? We have answers. Contact us today.