CIR has concluded that in about five years, revenues generated from quantum repeaters will represent a significant and attractive business opportunity.

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PONs, Nokia and the Future of Broadband Service Delivery

We think that Nokia is heading in the right direction with its Wireless PON (WPON) solution that it just announced to coincide with the Broadband World Forum in Berlin. WPON is a hybrid solution using Nokia’s PON technology for most of the distance in FTTx and then using so-called “WiGig” to complete the connection to the home or other building. 

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An Opportunity for Selling Quantum Encryption in the Data Center?

The demand for cost-effective high-performance cryptography solutions for data-centers continues to grow under the weight of almost constant threats of hacking, both strategic and malicious.  At the present time, asymmetric cryptographic solutions and bare fiber links form two of the most critical weak points for data-center security.  Both of these security incursions could be defended against by deploying adequate quantum key exchange (QKD) solutions.

But as CIR sees things, several factors are holding back QKD deployment in the data center and suppliers of QKD systems must address these issues if they are ever going to tap into the data center market; an addressable market that is larger in volume terms than these suppliers have ever had available to them before. The most obvious problem is that QKD firms have not yet come up with QKD solutions that would be affordable to most data center managers.

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AOCs and the Future of 400 GigE

400 GigE is the first Ethernet standard not to incorporate copper cable.  There is some talk about implementing 400 GigE for ultra-short reach links on a board or even board-to-board.  But for the typical data center applications – rack-to-rack and beyond – it’s fiber all the way.  An open question is how will the fiber be implemented?  The options here being field termination and active optical cables.

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Of Polymers and Data Centers

While polymer-based data communications has found viable niches in home networking and in the automotive industry, there has been no success in bring polymers in the data center.  Polymer datacom start ups have risen and fallen.  One recalls, especially, Telephotonics, which had very ambitious plans to create a full range of polymer-based optical components for the telecommunications industry. Large specialty chemical firms – including Dow, DuPont and Dow Corning -- have promised polymer optical components but said promises have not produced much.

CIR believes that this is about to change and polymer photonics is finally emerging as a viable solution for data centers.  Whereas the old polymer photonics was mostly focused on plastic optical fiber (POF), the new approach is all about polymer waveguides.  And while the old “polymer photonics” was technology in search of an application, today’s polymer photonics lowers the cost of handling “big data” in routers, switches and data centers which makes for an actual business case.

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Cabling for 400 GigE:  Two Opportunities and a Threat

For now 400 GigE is barely in its deployment phase, and its use will be confined to hyperscale data centers at first.  But we have all seen how the fastest data rates make their way downward.  It is not that many years since 10 Gbps was considered “bleeding edge.” Today some laptops have 40 Gbps (Thunderbolt) interfaces.  So it may not be many years before the industry must contend with the cabling infrastructure opportunities that 400 Gbps will bring in its wake.
Cabling opportunities change at a slower pace than data rates.  When data center managers install a new cabling infrastructure, they want assurance that it will survive several generations of networking protocols.  Data centers are reluctant to abandon old cabling technologies.   Even though the death of copper has been proclaimed in the data center since the 1990s it hasn’t come close to happening yet What has happened is that copper cabling has improved its packaging – CAT 7 is something a lot more than the old “telephone wire” – and its price has increased.  But copper has endured so far.

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