Usually when a vendor announces new optical technology, we’re talking about more bandwidth or new software or both. But Infinera’s announcement this morning was a bit different, they claim to have a pathway to point-to-multipoint optical transmission with a technology they are calling XRoptics.
They are building on the Nyquist subcarriers that are featured in their existing coherent optical gear, making them independently routable. The upshot would be the ability to use one transceiver at the source for multiple transceivers at various destinations. Of course aggregation has always involved splitting up capacity as you reach out to eyeballs, but thus far every link in that web had to have two transceivers on each end. Changing that equation could theoretically revolutionize network design at the aggregation layer, cutting capex and opex and possibly enabling greater capillarity than has been reasonable in the past.
At the moment this isn’t an actual product, just a capability and concept that Infinera is deciding what to do with. They might take the Qualcomm approach and license it out, creating an ecosystem of vendors that could take the idea and run with it.
With the explosion of infrastructure needs at the edge and beyond from 5G and other new technologies, this is a good time for such an innovation if it works the way Infinera suggests it will. There is certainly a need for better scaling in the economics of the aggregation layer.
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