• United States
Executive Editor

The Optical Fiber Communication Conference

Mar 20, 20032 mins

* The conference features two provider-focused events - the Service Provider Summit and OFC Market Watch

When the Optical Fiber Communication Conference convenes this week in Atlanta, it will for the first time it has attempted to bring together all the elements needed to  take advances in optical science and turn them into new services.

The show, which is organized by three technical societies, is sponsoring two separate tracks for carriers called the Service Provider Summit and OFC Market Watch.

The first is a day of presentations about the challenges providers face in boosting bandwidth capacity in their networks economically. Given carrier’s spending restrictions, this summit is designed to offer providers tips on designing and building optical networks efficiently. The summit will also look at competition among service providers to help them determine what services have the most demand.

The second provider-focused event, OFC Market Watch, is dedicated to the business aspects of optical communications. Specifically, sessions will consider trends in optical use by providers, whether optical technology is making headway as a means of service delivery, and how to use tunable lasers to reconfigure optical transport networks on the fly.

OFC has always been mainly a technical conference. It has added component and systems vendors on a show floor to demonstrate the practical implementation of the science, says Elizabeth Rogan, Executive director of the Optical Society of America, which sponsors OFS along with two IEEE groups, Laser and Electrooptics Society, and Communications Society. This year more than 900 exhibitors have signed up, she says.

The missing element was the businesses that bought the gear, namely carriers, she says. “If you look at the food chain of how device manufacturers and component manufacturers rely on each other, it was the service providers that close the gap,” she says.

The main thrust of the conference will still be technical, with more than 500 papers to be delivered over five days, Rogan says. These papers were culled from about 1,200 submitted, a 9% increase over last year, indicating that despite the dismal telecom economy, technical advances continue.

Some of the topics include new ways to perform optical switching, simple and efficient ways to tune lasers to different frequencies, and optical technology that allows error-free 10Gbit/sec ethernet transmissions over a 10 kilometer fiber.

Still, the economy and world affairs could have an impact on the show. Last year it drew 32,000 attendees and so far preregistration is down, but Rogan would not say how much.