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November 14, 2022
As society becomes increasingly information-oriented and AI and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are incorporated into our daily lives, the amount of data handled has been increasing rapidly and data centers often reach their capacity limit, making the users connect new data centers with existing ones frequently.
Besides, robot-assisted surgery systems have started gaining traction. The operators of such systems want to make them remotely operable so that they can train more surgeons and save more people. However, this requires high-speed and low-latency network connections.
Addressing the above demands, IOWN GF released in January 2022 Open All Photonics Network (APN) Functional Architecture, which defines the functional architecture of a new network that creates high-speed and low-latency connections between communication endpoints, which may be data centers or hospitals, leveraging optical transport and switching technologies.
Figure 1. Overview of Open APN and use cases
The network nodes defined in the Open APN Functional Architecture can be made from the Open ROADM MSA4 's standard components, which are available from global optical product vendors such as Ciena, Fujitsu, and NEC. To prove the viability and operability of Open APN, NTT will conduct a PoC jointly with Ciena, Fujitsu, NEC, and other companies in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022. The PoC will validate wavelength connection creation/deletion functions and evaluate the performance of optical communications in terms of throughput, delay, and jitter.
The PoC should prove that Open APN is implementable and operable with products already available in the global market and encourage many organizations in the world to build and implement Open APN.
While today's ROADM products are designed to create optical connections between telecommunication carrier's sites, an Open APN creates connections between any endpoints, which may be customer sites. This difference leads to the need for new functions as listed below (Figure 2):
Figure 2. Functional requirements for on-demand wavelength connections between user sites
NTT has developed the above functions and started a field test in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The test should validate their operability under various conditions such as fiber length and loss levels in a real environment. As the test will also utilize the outcome from Open ROADM MSA and Telecom Infra Project Open Optical & Packet Transport6, the test should demonstrate how the outcomes from the three organizations can be combined to build open and disaggregated infrastructures.
NTT intends to reflect the findings from the field test to the future versions of IOWN GF Open APN Functional Architecture.
To promote high-capacity, low-latency, and energy-efficient communications with APN, NTT will reinforce its capabilities of developing photonic-electronic convergence devices for products including optical transceivers. As part of these efforts, NTT Electronics has made "fJscaler Inc." (Oregon, USA), a company with extensive experience in high-performance analog integrated circuit design7,.its subsidiary. In the future,
Future APNs will be capable of managing optical communication resources in cooperation with radio communication systems including 5G and beyond 5G. With NTT's continuing efforts together with IOWN GF members, APN will be the infrastructure for future societies, enabling high-capacity, low-latency, energy-efficient communications for both fixed and mobile.
1An innovative network based on photonics technology whose architecture is being openly developed at IOWN GF.
2A new industry forum that promotes the realization of a new communication infrastructure consisting of all-photonics networks including silicon photonics, edge computing, and wireless distributed computing through the development of new technologies, frameworks, technical specifications, and reference designs to meet the data and information processing demands of the coming era.
3A connection using a specific wavelength between optical transceivers. By occupying wavelengths between optical transceivers, low-latency and high-capacity communication are possible.
4A Multi-Service Agreement that defines the interfaces and specifications that allow ROADM (Re-configurable Optical Add-Drop Multiplexer) systems to interoperate between vendors.
5A function for connecting multiple optical fibers with different wavelength bands without electrical conversion while remaining in the wavelength connection.
6A project aimed at defining open technologies, architectures, and interfaces in optical and IP networks.
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