Steady progress, but no surprises at ECOC 2018

LightCounting publishes a research note on ECOC

Yes, all roads lead to Rome and the European Congress on Optical Communications (ECOC) found its way to Rome this year. It is comforting that Google Maps worked well even at the “point of singularity.” However, we found the service and air-conditioning in Italy are still emerging industries. Nevertheless, ECOC 2018 was a good show and all the exhibitors and attendees deserve credit for it. Thank you for being there. Attendees will get a break from the heat next year as ECOC 2019 will be held in Dublin. 2019 will become the Guinness year in our calendar.

Highspeed Ethernet optics for mega datacenters is by far the largest business opportunity for suppliers and it was the primary focus of ECOC 2018. Co-packaging of optics and electronics remains a hot topic, perhaps literally, as the realization dawns that future generations of chip I/O will consume too much power to be viable. Progress in 400/600G DWDM components and modules as well as optics for 5G wireless fronthaul were among highlights of ECOC-2018.

LightCounting reported on first shipments of 25G transceivers for wireless fronthaul which started in late 2017 and achieved significant sales volume in the first half of 2018, as detailed in the latest Quarterly Market Update Report.

Source Photonics had a live demo of 25G-LR lite SFP28 modules designed for a 1 km reach and based on lower cost FP (instead of DFB) lasers. More than 10 million 25G modules are expected to be deployed to support 5G installation, so lowering the cost of these modules is critical.

Two new MSAs for 50G optics were announced just ahead of ECOC: DSFP and SFP-DD. The first one seems to be developed for Huawei with improved RF performance from the connector. The second one has received broad support from the industry.

Intel demonstrates operation of 10km reach CWDM4 modules at +85C and -20C (placed in a freezer along with ice cream, as shown in the photo below), targeting applications in 5G fronthaul.�� This is a noteworthy development for Intel’s transceiver business, which was previously limited to PSM4 and CWDM4 data center products. Some of the MIMO antennas are using 100G connectivity now and demand for 100G optics with an industrial temperature range is expected to be strong. Intel is sampling silicon photonics transceivers for 5G wireless now with mass production due to start in Q1 2019.

Source: Intel, photo by LightCounting

ZTE is back in business resuming operation very quickly. The latest wave of export tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese made products excluded optical transceivers. Yet, the uncertainly about future steps by the US and China in their trade disputes clouds the industry’s prospects and this was evident at ECOC 2018.

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LightCounting is a leading optical communications market research company, offering semiannual market updates, forecasts, and state-of-the-industry reports based on its analysis of primary research with dozens of leading module, component, and system vendors as well as service providers and other users. LightCounting is the optical communications market’s first choice source for the accurate, detailed, and relevant information necessary for doing business in today’s highly competitive environment. For more information, visit: or follow us on Twitter at @LightCounting.