3 Questions with Katsuhiko Kawazoe

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Photonics Spectra spoke with Katsuhiko Kawazoe, president and chairperson of the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network Global Forum (IOWN GF). Kawazoe is also senior vice president and head of research and development planning at NTT Corp. in Japan. In April, the IOWN GF announced its vision in a publicly available white paper.

Which companies were the initial innovators behind the IOWN GF and what is the general administrative structure?

Intel, NTT, and SONY founded the IOWN GF this year to be a forum that comprises companies representing a diverse selection of industries that are focused on defining an all-photonics next-generation communications infrastructure. The infrastructure will enable connected computing to deliver a smarter, more connected world.

Its administrative structure is similar to what you would expect from a global industry standards body. It includes steering committees and working groups overseen by a board of directors. The current steering committees and working groups include the Vision Steering Committee, Technology Steering Committee, Marketing Steering Committee, the Use Case Working Group, and the Technology Working Group. The kickoff meeting for these groups was held in April and work has already started. For more information about IOWN GF, its vision, and its technical direction, the white paper “Innovative Optical and Wireless Network Global Forum Vision 2030 and Technical Directions” can be accessed for free online.

How does a world communications map move from idea to reality, and how does it navigate varying regulatory ideologies around the world? It seems like it would have to both lead and follow.

IOWN GF will lead, follow, and collaborate at an industry level and with global standards bodies. This will facilitate IOWN GF’s mission to define next-generation communications and a distributed computing infrastructure through the development of industry-driven specifications and standards. Standards form the basis for the introduction of new technologies and innovations. They also ensure that products, components, and services supplied by different companies will be compatible. Standards and specification development are how we move to the realization of a connected future. Along with the development of new standards and specifications, building the next-generation infrastructure will require global support, collaboration, and consensus from a wide variety of industry partners. IOWN GF’s initial steps to achieve this include engaging external standards bodies and working to publish core technical documents such as minimum performance requirements and other reports. Eventually, IOWN GF will release standards documents for collaboration and adoption by external standards bodies and publish a core set of technical specifications and use cases to help define the next-generation communications infrastructure.

What does success look like, and what are the three or four largest challenges to accomplishing it? Have photonics technologies matured to the point where they are ready to be implemented or are there technological milestones that still need to be achieved?

IOWN GF’s Vision 2030 seeks to remove the barriers to achieving a smarter, more connected world. We will look beyond currently available technologies and define new communications and computing architectures capable of supporting new services and fostering sustainability.

AI, VR, AR, 5G, blockchain, and other technologies are increasingly part of what makes up a connected life for billions of people on the planet. Today these infrastructures are under increasing stress brought about by more data traffic from these technologies and the use cases they enable. IOWN GF will be successful if we are able to define the networking and computing infrastructure required to improve the way people interact with technology and each other. True success will be achieved when people use and benefit from IOWN-enabled solutions without even realizing they are doing so.

IOWN GF’s technical goals are clear: to drive technical development and adoption, and to create the next-generation infrastructure with 100× lower power consumption, 125× increase in transmission capacity, and 200× lower latency than currently available.

We believe photonics technologies can contribute to reducing power consumption drastically. Installing photonics technologies into digital devices such as chips will not only result in a large reduction of power consumption but also an acceleration of processing capability. However, IOWN GF’s biggest challenge is not technical. While we have the ability to define an all-photonics infrastructure and a next-generation distributed computing architecture by 2030, the biggest challenge will be getting industry to adopt the forum’s vision and create this new reality. Collaboration across industries and national borders will be critical in achieving these goals.

Work will soon begin to address challenges in the following focus areas:

• Shifting toward datacentric communication and computing infrastructure.

• Accelerating full-stack communication.

• Scaling computing across device, edge, and center cloud. (Center cloud is a massive data center.)

• Sustainable growth and energy efficiency for communications infrastructure and computing.

For more comprehensive information about IOWN GF, its vision, and its technical direction, feel free to read the recently published technical directions white paper, which can be found on the IOWN GF website.

Published: April 2020
Katsuhiko KawazoeInnovative Optical and Wireless Network Global ForumIOWN GFIntelNTTSonydata-centric communicationfull-stack communication.3 Questions

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