Will silicon photonics live up to its promises? Pauline Rigby investigates
Analysis & opinion
Mobile futures depend on fibre but first the technology camps must start talking to each other, argues David Brunnen
Over the last year, you may have heard proponents espouse the benefits of OM4+ multimode fibre. For instance, they claim it is better for single-wavelength applications, and it’s comparable to OM5 for multiwavelength application support. While OM4+ may have some useful attributes, which vary from company to company, that variation is a clue to the fact that in all cases it is proprietary, meaning it is not standardised. Essentially, the public is being asked to take OM4+ proponents at their word. As New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra once said, ‘It’s like déjà vu all over again’.
As the year ends and a new one starts, it’s time to look back at some of the highlights of the last 12 months. 2017 was a great year for the optical networking industry and for Fibre Systems in particular as website traffic grew by 30 per cent. We’ve studied the statistics to see who was reading what. We then divided our top ten stories of the year into the five most-read news stories and the five most popular feature articles. Without further ado, here they are.
Top five news stories
Here are the headlines that caught our readers’ attention in 2017.
When communications infrastructure is not refreshed as often as end points, such as servers and mobile devices, limitations can quickly manifest, writes Mervyn Kelly
Irate broadband infrastructure firms have lashed out at a bizarre ruling from the UK’s advertising watchdog that will allow service providers to continue to use the word ‘fibre’ in their commercials, even when the connection to the home is not an optical fibre.
“Frankly, using this ruling I can now start calling my mobile phone a fibre phone because the delivery to my phone is over part fibre! It’s patently idiotic,” fumed Matthew Hare, chief executive of rural broadband provider Gigaclear.
Helen Xenos explains how telcos can unlock the full potential of their existing fibre connections, allowing them to offer bursts of additional capacity without having to physically build out the network
Niek Jan van Damme, the head of Deutsche Telekom in Germany, chose the opening of the consumer electronics trade show, IFA 2017, this week to highlight the operator’s investments in fibre-optic broadband – while simultaneously downplaying the importance of FTTH in its overall strategy.
Local authorities in six different regions of the UK will set up pilot schemes designed to stimulate commercial roll-out of gigabit broadband networks, it was announced on Sunday.
The pilots are the first stage of a four-year, £200 million government programme to develop ‘local full fibre networks’, as outlined in the Spring Budget. The six projects will get around £10 million between them to test innovative approaches to connecting offices and public sector buildings with fibre infrastructure.
Britain has a reputation as a backwater when it comes to fibre-optic broadband connections that reach directly into consumer’s homes. Currently, only two per cent of households in the country have access to full fibre connections. But that looks set to change. This summer, some £500 million of equity and new debt have been invested in alternative network providers in the UK.
The influence of cloud and hyperscale data centre providers like Facebook, Google and Microsoft on the optical components industry is going to deepen, according to speakers at OFC 2017.
Openreach, owner of the UK’s access network infrastructure, will become a separate company with its own staff, management and strategy after BT Group reached an agreement with the regulator Ofcom, announced last Friday.
Calling it “the biggest reform of Openreach in its history”, Ofcom said BT has agreed to all the changes necessary to address its competition concerns, avoiding the need for more regulation.