Several members of our Champion ONE team joined over 15,000 other network professionals in San Diego last week at this year’s Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exhibition (OFC). Here are 5 of our key takeaways from one of the world’s largest optical networking events.

1. All About 5G

By far, the hottest topic this year is the imminent deployment of 5G wireless. While we don’t foresee widespread deployments until 2020 at the earliest, 5G is scheduled to arrive in select markets this year. As network operators prepare, we are seeing a lot of attention paid to 25G transceivers, as well as an accelerated adoption and deployment of 100G.

2. Data Center Dominance

The rapid rate at which data centers are growing (both in number and in total interface capacity) shows no signs of slowing down. As such, there is an increasing amount of attention paid to technology for data center interconnect applications. One notable example of this is the development of switches that can handle both 100G and 400G for these applications.

3. 400G Is Ramping Up Quickly

Following through on the promise of last year’s OFC, we saw many demos of 400G optical transceivers and other 400G equipment. In fact, there seem to be many more players in this space than there were for 100G at a comparable point in its life cycle. This highly competitive landscape should keep pressure on costs and increase product availability to facilitate widespread adoption.

4. The 400G Form Factor Debate Continues

One of the biggest questions still remaining in the 400G space is what form factor will achieve market prevalence: OSFP or QSFP-DD. While large players like Google and Microsoft have ensured a niche for OSFP, QSFP-DD seems to have a much larger presence right now (as we’ve predicted). This may be because QSFP-DD offers end users backward compatibility with 100G QSFP28, while OSFP may position manufacturers better for 800G. Which brings us to…

5. 800G Is Just Around the Corner

Now that 400G is becoming a reality, many in the industry are already turning to the next frontier: 800G. While it’s possible we may see some demos as soon as this time next year, further development of 800G may be slowed by the fast rate of adoption of 400G.

Stay tuned to our blog for more on these topics, as well as deeper coverage on other hot topics from OFC 2019.

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