Future-Proofing and Investing in Flexibility

Future-Proofing and Investing in Flexibility

Future proofing your network and investing in flexibility is vital for your network’s uptime. With new, emerging technology and more options to choose from than ever before, making the right decision may seem like an impossible task. Here’s a quick comparison of a few common options so you can weigh the pros and cons. Learn about the best ways to protect your investment as it relates to Tunable vs. Fixed Wavelength, CWDM vs. DWDM, and XG-PON vs. XGS-PON.

Tunable vs. Fixed Wave

As the demand for traffic capacity keeps growing, more optical transceivers at varying wavelengths are needed, leading to higher cost. Tunable transceivers are one way to build in flexibility. As with everything, there are always tradeoffs though.

Tunable Transceivers compared to Fixed Wavelengths:

1. Flexibility in network management: Conventional DWDM transceivers use fixed-wavelength lasers as light sources. This has a multiplier effect on the number of transceivers required in this solution. DWDM tunables differ in that they can operate at any channel wavelength, adding flexibility and reducing the number of transceiver types required.

2. Sparing and cost benefits of tuneables: The number of wavelengths in DWDM 50GHz has reached the hundreds, creating sparing challenges. Tunable optics are configured with different DWDM wavelengths in one module. You can select the right wavelength you need, based on your environment. DWDM tunables are one innovative sparing tactic to free up inventory dollars.

3. Considering switch support: One consideration is that DWDM tunable transceivers can only be tuned when your Cisco/Juniper/Arista/etc. switch supports it. There are ways around this though. If your switch only supports fixed-wave, you’ll need external software to have those tunables read as fixed. Integra’s Smart Coder can help. This work-around gains you the flexibility you need both in the short-term and long-term.


Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing (CWDM):

1. Up to 18 channels transmitted through a fiber at the same time. Typically limited to supporting eight channels, and for distances 40-to-70km.

3. Traditionally lower in cost, making CWDM more popular than DWDM in the past.

4. As a result of manufacturing advancements over time, the cost of DWDM has come down and is more comparable to CWDM, quickly becoming a more realistic technology of choice. DWDM is another way to help future-proof your network and add flexibility when comparing the two options, and here’s why:

Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM):

1. Up to 80 simultaneous wavelength channels through a fiber.

2. DWDM connections can be amplified and can therefore be used for transmitting data much longer distances, reducing the need for repeater sites.

3. DWDM is one of the most important technologies to increase network transmission capacity and creates pay as you grow expansion opportunities.

4. Can handle up to 100G per channel making it a more suitable technology for higher speed protocols.

5. Since there is tremendous demand for more and more bandwidth, DWDM is much more favored in the market moving forward.


Here’s what you need to know about the differences between XG-PON and XGS-PON, and when to use each technology.


1. XG-PON is essentially a higher bandwidth version of GPON. It has the same capabilities as GPON and can co-exist on the same fiber with GPON.

2. This technology only works in 10/2.5G asymmetrical mode.

3. Deployed XG-PON OLTs have to be upgraded or even replaced to be able to provide XGS capabilities. More importantly, deployed XG-PON ONTs cannot operate at symmetrical rates, so they would need to be replaced.


1. XGS-PON is a higher bandwidth, symmetrical version of GPON. Again, XGS-PON has the same capabilities of GPON and can co-exist on the same fiber.

2. XGS-PON works in both 10/2.5 and 10/10G symmetrical mode.

3. Symmetrical bitrates are important, as they open new opportunities for operators to earn revenue from their networks more quickly.

4. XGS-PON can use both XG-PON and XGS-PON ONUs.

5. Analysts predict XGS-PON will become the technology of choice for broadband operators by 2022.

Ready to chat about what technology is right for your network?

Talk to one of our optics experts!