Optical Networking - Observations from NGON 2015



LightCounting Publishes Research Note on Optical Networking Trends


LightCounting Principal Analyst John Lively attended IIR’s Next Generation Optical Networking conference in Dallas, Texas on October 6-7, 2015. He chaired the optical networking track, which focused on OTN and SDN, and has summarized his findings for LightCounting clients in a Research Note. Here are some of the highlights:

Network traffic continues to grow rapidly, putting pressure on operator networks
It’s no surprise to hear that network traffic is growing rapidly, and this was confirmed again by several different operators at the conference. Cox reported seeing 50% annual growth in traffic on its network, Shaw Networks is seeing 64% annual growth in residential internet traffic, and Proximium said metro traffic is growing 2X faster than long haul network traffic. Mohcene Mezhoudi of Bell Labs reported that metro traffic grew 400% in the last year for one Tier 1 operator that he has worked with. And as an example of just how dynamic internet driven traffic can be, Texas Lone Star Networks (a regional operator in Texas) reported that its Apple traffic increased 300% (going from 3% to 10% of total traffic) in the first 12 hours following the launch of the iPhone 6s a few weeks ago.

Doing more of the same is not a viable solution for network operators
Brian Soloducha of Shaw Networks, facing rapid traffic growth, studied 26 different FMOs (future modes of operation, i.e. different network configuration and upgrade options), along with a ‘more of the same’ scenario, and found that continuing to add equipment to the current architecture was the highest cost of all the different options studied. His conclusion: “Doing more of the same is the absolute worst thing you can do.”

OTN for cost savings, SDN for flexibility
Many of the presentations and most of the discussion at the conference focused on Optical Transport Networking (OTN) and Software Defined Networks (SDN). Several operators gave examples in which OTN substantially reduced rack space requirements, and lowered operators’ power and rent costs. Operators were more cautious about endorsing SDN for transport networks, recognizing the potential benefits, but saying that vendor solutions today fall short of delivering them fully.

Long links proliferating in datacenters
Datacenter networks were another topic hotly discussed at the conference, particularly the optical networks used within and between datacenters. Several datacenter designers, builders, and operators spoke about the challenges in finding space and power for expansion, and the role that singlemode optics of various kinds play in solving these issues.

The full version of LightCounting’s Research Note on NGON 2015 is available to clients online this afternoon. Log in to your account at

Recently published reports:

  1. State of the Optical Communications Industry, May 2015
  2. High-speed Datacenter Interconnects, June 2015
  3. Next-Generation FTTX Optics, July 2015
  4. Optical Communications Market Forecast, August 2015
  5. Quarterly Market Update Report (September 2015)

Coming soon:

  1. Mobile Fronthaul Optics Report & Forecast, November 2015
  2. Active Optical Cables and Embedded Optical Modules, December 2015
  3. Quarterly Market Update Report (December 2015)

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.