Future of Optical Networks

Future of Optical Networks

Why do we need it?

Optical networks have been evolving for the past few decades, and it shouldn't end there. In the era of videos, applications and big data, massive bandwidth is consumed daily. From the era of Charles Kao, where the first generations systems operated on a bit rate of 45 MB/s to the 2014 broadband speed record of 1.4 TB/s, fiber-optics are the key for super-fast broadband speeds that meet our ever-growing demand. (Wells 2014 January 22)


Even wireless networks rely on fiber optics. The next generation of mobile network, 5G, RAN (Radio Access Network) bandwidth demands will grow exponentially, however, currently a significant amount of cooper technology is still being used by RAN. Because of the speeds 5G is proposing, RAN will be a problem for 5G deployment. In addition to capacity, fiber optics are also required to meet the performance goals of 5G. Senior Director of Portfolio Marketing at Ciena, Brian Lavallee said: "It is rather ironic that the projected performance goals of 5G wireless will depend on the availability of wireline fiber." (Lavallee, 2016 May 31)


Fiber optic networks are growing steadily. Developing countries are realizing that economic growth is also factored by having fast reliable internet. The European Commission is striving to have 100 percent of coverage goal of 30 Mb/s or better by 2020. This is unachievable without fiber optic networks. (Topper, 2016 January 01) According to the Akamai Q4 2015 global average connection speeds rating, the US does not even break top 10 with an average connection speed of 12.6 Mb/s. The initial investment in installation is very high, but as the cost is decreasing and bandwidth demand is increasing, network providers in the US are forced to modernize their infrastructure. Google Fiber is one of the first large scale projects being undertaken to change cities' internet networks. In the selected cities, speeds of 1 Gb/s are achievable where the other national internet provider, Verizon, only achieves half of that speeds. As a developed country, only 7 percent of Americans have access to a fiber optic connection while the 16 percent of people in developed world have access.