The global optical communications community assembled in San Diego 3-7 March 2019 for OFC (Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exhibition). This year’s event featured the market’s prevailing topics in standing-room only business and technical sessions; technology and product demonstrations and announcements from the world’s leading companies; plenary talks that explored open networks, communications between self-driving cars, and optical integration for higher data rates; and dynamic presentations on real-world 5G deployments and network build-outs.
“As our world becomes increasingly more connected, the optical communications infrastructure that supports it needs to evolve to be more robust and efficient, and at the same time, cost-effective,” said Gabriella Bosco, Politecnico di Torino, Italy, and OFC 2019 General Chair. “The industry gathered at OFC to debate these business challenges and identify potential technical solutions to meet customer demands.”
Driving Business Solutions
This year’s OFC convened nearly 15,400 attendees from around the world to celebrate successes, debate new opportunities and push the boundaries of innovation. The show boasted 683 exhibitors on a floor encompassing 189,607 net square feet (500,000 gross square feet). Overall, the OFC exhibit served as a platform for important industry announcements, including developments in coherent DWDM networking, silicon photonics and 400ZR advancements.
“OFC is the place to make major announcements because the whole industry comes together,” stated Yves LeMaitre, Chief Strategy Officer, Lumentum. “Whether you’re working in data centers, telecom networks or access networks, all optical technologies for communications are here.”
OFC 2019 offered a unique experience for attendees, both showcasing technical research and debuting commercial solutions. For example, several live multivendor interoperability demonstrations took place on the exhibit floor: Coherent Transceiver Interoperability, Ethernet Alliance, OIF and Open ROADM MSA SDN. Technologies from approximately 40 companies were featured in the demos, including: 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), 25GbE, 50GbE, 100GbE, 400GbE; Open Source Open ROADM SDN Controller; pluggable CFP2-ACO and CFP2-DCO modules; and Common Electrical I/O (CEI)-112G, FlexE (Flex Ethernet) and 400ZR.
“The sessions, panels and demonstrations at OFC impress me every year,” said Woo Jin Ho, technology analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence. “Vendors continue to push the envelope on driving higher transmission rates in smaller form factors. Key emerging trends to look out for the industry and vendors based on the conference include 600G/800G optics and systems and 400ZR for the hyperscale cloud data centers.”
Leading Technical Vision
Conference content, which included more than 450 peer-reviewed papers, 180 invited and tutorial presentations, 10 workshops, 6 panels and 55 short courses, focused on the latest discoveries. For example, technological breakthroughs in data center connectivity, 5G and IoT. In addition, advanced integrations of optics and electronics will open doors for reaching new data limits.
“From solving the open network challenge to advances in modulation formats and the move toward faster optical interface speeds, the discussions at OFC this week explored what’s happening now, what will be possible in the near-term, and where we need to head in the long-term,” continued Bosco.
Moving the Industry Forward
Leaders in the field agree that OFC 2020, being held 8-12 March in San Diego, will serve as a springboard for the next round of innovations.
“Next year at OFC, we expect to see samples of 400G ZR, with deployment coming later in the year,” predicts Benny Mikkelsen, Chief Technology Officer, Acacia Technologies and conference plenary speaker. “OFC is a great opportunity to get people together to have a fruitful discussion.” (Watch a video interview featuring additional insights from Benny Mikkelsen.)
The Optical Fiber Conference and Exhibition (OFC) is the largest global conference and exhibition for optical communications and networking professionals. For more than 40 years, OFC has drawn attendees from all corners of the globe to meet and greet, teach and learn, make connections and move business forward.
OFC includes dynamic business programming, an exhibition of more than 700 companies, and high impact peer-reviewed research that, combined, showcase the trends and pulse of the entire optical networking and communications industry. OFC is managed by The Optical Society (OSA) and co-sponsored by OSA, the IEEE Communications Society (IEEE/ComSoc), and the IEEE Photonics Society. OFC 2019 will be held from 3-7 March 2019 at the San Diego Convention Center, California, USA.