2021 Predictions: Three Things to Watch in Optical Transport This Year

Emir Halilovic, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • The impact of 5G will start showing in optical transport revenues in earnest in 2021, and the ensuing capacity increases will translate into accelerated upgrade cycles in the metro packet-optical domain.
  • Vendors competing in coherent solutions will put more emphasis on overall fiber capacity and spectral efficiency and present their capabilities across several dimensions, reducing focus on maximum wavelength capacity as the industry currency.

5G Transport Needs Will Shape Packet-Optical Access and Metro

The impact of 5G on the CSP network technology ecosystem beyond the radio access will be substantial, and transport is the first domain where this has become evident. Beyond capacity requirements an order of magnitude higher than was the case with 4G, 5G also needs stringent timing and synchronization and defines very low-latency system-wide latency budgets, which translate into very strict requirements for each network element in the communications link. As opposed to 4G, where most deployed base stations were macro, 5G architecture is much more versatile and opens the way for significantly more disaggregation between different elements of radio access. This directly translates into a much greater role for fronthaul and midhaul that need to seamlessly connect these disaggregated parts of radio network access. Taken together, the new speed, precision, and latency requirements of 5G have already led most operators to renew and augment their mobile x-haul portfolios. Additionally, the continually increasing volume of new connections and the need for flexibility to support functions like network slicing have brought on a realistic and urgent need to deploy automation and orchestration solutions across the transport networks. Continue reading “2021 Predictions: Three Things to Watch in Optical Transport This Year”