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Moving Closer to Reality: CableLabs Holds Second Interop•Labs Point-to-Point Coherent Optics Event

Matt Schmitt
Principal Architect

Jun 6, 2019

Not every time can be the first time:  there can only be one first interop, or first spec release, or first technology demo. Saying you’ve done something for the second time doesn’t carry the same excitement or cachet as saying you did it for the first. And yet, the first time at anything is rarely the last:  you take what you learn doing something the first time, and then you apply that to doing it better the second time.  And then you take what you learn there, and you continue to improve.  It’s that continuous cycle of improvement that brings things closer to reality and ultimately gets us to the finish line.

It’s in that spirit that we’d like to announce the successful completion of our second Interop·Labs Point-to-Point Coherent Optics event, hosted by CableLabs at our facility in Louisville, Colorado, April 23–25, during which we worked to bring point-to-point coherent optics technology closer to reality for cable operators.

We went into this event with two main objectives:

  • Demonstrate the ability to pass ethernet traffic between coherent optics transceivers from multiple different manufacturers, representing a real-world use of the technology; and
  • Demonstrate compliance with the optical receiver sensitivity requirements from the specification.

Both of these objectives are incremental yet significant steps toward showing a real-world solution as compared with the “plugfest” style event we held in December 2018.

Assisting us in this work were five manufacturers: Acacia, ADVA, Ciena, Edge-Core, and NTT Electronics. It wasn’t a long list, but it was highly representative of the industry, including transceivers utilizing DSP silicon from the majority of the key manufacturers in the coherent optics space. It also represented multiple different pieces of network equipment, necessary for connecting coherent optics transceivers to other networks, including for the first time a network switch not provided by a transceiver module manufacturer and designed to work with a wide range of transceiver modules.

And just because the event built on a previous one doesn't mean that there weren’t issues to resolve. But that’s the point of events like this:  to uncover those issues in the lab, to work together in the spirit of collaboration to resolve them and to move ever closer to seeing these products deployed in the field. Which is exactly what happened! I’m happy to say that everyone showed the type of interoperability we would expect, and demonstrated compliance with the optical power and optical signal-to-noise ratio (OSNR) sensitivity requirements that we were testing against.

In the final result, this was a solid step forward on the path toward making the deployment of this 10G technology in cable operator networks a reality. And it certainly won’t be the last, so there will be further opportunities to engage in more events in the future. Any company that manufactures coherent optics transceivers, network equipment for those transceivers, or test equipment for validating coherent optics equipment is welcome to join our Interop·Labs events. Please contact me if you’re interested in getting involved, or keep an eye on our website for announcements of future events.