As 2018 nears its end, we look ahead to 2019, in which we expect these 5 stories to dominate industry headlines:

Get ready for 5G. As we’ve recently discussed, 5G wireless is projected to be a game-changing development that may impact every facet of our lives. In the words of one industry expert: “Faster networks deliver new possibilities that we can’t even imagine today. The applications we can already picture are exciting. The ones we can’t yet see? World-changing.” At 10x the speed of current 4G deployments, we’re inclined to agree.

While standards are still being defined, service providers will continue the rollout of 5G service in select markets throughout the US. Additionally, last mile (FTTx) technology and infrastructure will continue to evolve to support this technology, including new business models to share infrastructure costs such as neutral hosting and spectrum sharing.

100G: the new 10G? In order for core networks to support 5G wireless and other developments that will cause exponential increases in network capacity requirements, 10G will no longer suffice on many links. As such, the market for 100G switches and transceivers should rapidly expand, and the maturation of the technology has put this upgrade well within budgetary reach for most network operators, especially when using open networking alternatives. We expect QSFP28 will further cement its status as the dominant form factor, with a continued limited presence of CFP2.

The future is 400G. After years of development, we feel the technology is ready for 400G to make a big impact. In particular, hyperscale data centers will rapidly begin to adopt this technology, driven by the increase in cloud computing. We believe double-density QSFP (QSFP-DD) ports and transceivers will emerge as the early form factor of choice, followed by OSFP.

More disaggregation. More and more operators of large networks are breaking away from the traditional proprietary equipment model. They will instead seek the cost, flexibility, and automation advantages that open network (white box) switches and open source-derived software provide. The flexibility of software-defined networking (SDN) will continue to draw interest and adoption, which will in turn push the networks to upgrade to the higher data rates mentioned above. Disaggregation will continue its relentless march into new applications with further progress among open standards groups for ROADM, PON, Optical Transport, edge router and other network reference specifications and proof of concept milestones.

Advancements in silicon photonics. Integrating powerful silicon chips into compact optical transceiver form factors will simplify construction in a manner that reduces overall power consumption and increases transmission capacity. At speeds of up to 200G, integrated silicon optics are designed for both data center applications and possible 5G wireless support. While some manufacturers debuted these transceivers this year (and Google is already planning deployment), we expect to see further advancement in technology throughout 2019, with higher-volume manufacturing and increasing adoption in the latter half of the year.

Advancements in silicon photonics. Integrating powerful silicon chips into compact optical transceiver form factors will simplify construction in a manner that reduces overall power consumption and increases transmission capacity. At speeds of up to 200G, integrated silicon optics are designed for both data center applications and possible 5G wireless support. While some manufacturers debuted these transceivers this year (and Google is already planning deployment), we expect to see further advancement in technology throughout 2019, with higher-volume manufacturing and increasing adoption in the latter half of the year.

What other trends do you think will dominate in 2019? Follow us on Twitter and tweet us your predictions, we’ll retweet and share with our followers!

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