WASHINGTON, March 10 -- "For those of us who lived through the past three years, OFC this year could have reminded us of a bad case of deja vu," said a spokeperson at Current Analysis, a fiber optic industry research firm, about the 2004 annual Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC), held last month in Los Angeles.
"Fortunately, 2004 is not 2000," he added.
Attendance at OFC 2004 was 15,689, exceeding last year (15,000) and reversing the trend of the past few years.
Several new fiber announcements, 40 Gigabit wavelengths, VCSELs and next-generation ultralong haul optical networks dominated the conference.
"FTTX (fiber-to-the-x) captures the interest of vendors as carriers continue new buildouts," Current Analylsis said. "Corning was encouragingly active in its announcements at OFC this year, with three announcements specifically targeting FTTX and Triple Play applications. A key impediment to these installations remains cost, and Corning has set its sights on addressing the fiber portion of that equation, with its new NexCor fiber as the cornerstone of its solution."
Highlighting the industry interest in FTTX and Triple Play applications, Hitachi and OFS demonstrated their 'Quintuple-Play' broadband passive optical network (B-PON) system at the show for video, voice, data and online gaming services, and Passave highlighted its early fiber-to-the-home (FTTH). Corning Cable Systems demonstrated its preterminated access solution designed to enable faster installation of FTTX.
"The medical industry is increasingly a power-user of technology as means to advance medical science, but also to improve cost and operational efficiency," Current Analysis said. "Nortel's announcements of network upgrades and deployments at University of Pennsylvania Health System and other facilities across the US highlight the use of legacy PBX-based installations combined with next-generation Succession 1000 and optical Ethernet upgrades."
CWDM Makes Headlines
Carriers continue to focus an increasing portion of their CapEx spends on the access part of their networks, according to Current Analysis. "The cost and system deployment advantages of coarse wave division multiplexing (CWDM) continues to gain both system vendor and carrier interest, so it is no surprise that CWDM also appeared in the headlines at OFC. OCP introduced an OC-48 CWDM multirate pluggable transceiver in both intermediate and long-reach versions. Just to show that this is also a systems play, RBN announced that it has been awarded a two-year contract by Hong Kong's largest communications provider. RBN's GigaEdge 8200 installs have already begun."
Proving that 2000 was not that long ago, Mintera announced a 40 Gb/s test-and-measurement portfolio and Olympus and Lightconnect both made MEMS-related announcements. "The difference is that this year, we can touch it!" said Current Analysis.
Lucent announced it is partnering in a co-development relationship with Movaz to gain DWDM technology for its metro portfolio, and Civcom and Letek announced they will co-develop long-reach tunable lasers. Meanwhile, the Greater China Photonics Solutions Consortium banded together (with financial help from the Guangzhou government) to offer an integrated source for subsystems.
"Companies with renewed cost focus get lean and mean to compete, and partnerships are on the rise," according to Current Analysis. "Arasor announced it has entered into a joint venture agreement with the Guangzhou government to build a 200,000-square-foot facility in the municipality's new Nansha Information Technology Park."
These announcements indicate that consolidation among components and subsystem manufacturers continues, and the growth in China is a reflection of equipment supplier response to margin pressure, which cascades to subsystems and component vendors, Current Analysis said. Subsystem vendor Arasor also announced it has acquired the optical telecommunications subsystem provider Lightbit Corp.
OCP introduced an OC-48 CWDM multirate, small form pluggable transceiver, as components vendors look to provide systems vendors with components that give carriers flexible, lower-cost solutions. Agilent released a new family of 10 Gb/s Ethernet, Fibre Channel and SONET/SDH optical transceivers -- looking to supply systems vendors with cost-effective solutions that address applications such as storage area networking, Ethernet-based transport and VPN services and high-speed next-generation SONET/SDH that many feel will be growth areas for carrier revenues based on optical systems.
OFC's 2004 announcements demonstrate that both systems vendors and component and subsystems vendors are adapting to revised market opportunities with renewed cost focus and innovation. Current Analysis said OFC itself has adapted and changed with the times, bringing together a good mix of components manufacturers and subsystems vendors with the systems vendors they supply and offering seminars and technical education events at which attendance regained some momentum in 2004.
For Photonics.com OFC 2004 coverage and photos, visit: http://www.photonics.com/tradeshows/ofc2004/XQ/ASP/QX/index.htm