What’s New in 2022?

We’re all tired of hearing about “these unprecedented times”, but the pandemic has introduced some challenges and novel situations. Increased demand in the telecommunications and automotive industries paired with procurement, shipping, and delivery issues gives us the constricted supply chain we have now. This results in some pain when trying to get things done on a schedule. However, the silver lining is that 2022 could be a year of strong technological growth. With manufacturing limited by the raw materials and components required, R&D continues along and will get prioritized in some cases.

The industry wants what it always wants; greater bandwidth, longer distances, extended temperature ranges, lower power consumption, and WDM variations. However, we could see 2022 delivering most of what we’re hoping for! Some MSOs aren’t scaling internal structure with anything less than 100G and prefer 400G links, which is a benchmark for how things are going.

Wave Division Multiplexing, or WDM, is the practice of confining your signals to specific light wavelengths, which grants you the ability to fit multiple channels across each fiber. This can be a few channels with Coarse WDM or many channels with Dense WDM.

There’s not much chatter about 100G CWDMs, but we do expect them to mature eventually.  We’re seeing the low channels of 1271nm, 1291nm, 1311nm, and 1331nm 100G CWDM optics available now. Further channels and extended distances usually follow closely to those initial developments.

On the other hand, DWDM is DEFINITELY happening this year. 100G DWDM channels that reach 80km (ZR) are coming soon! For distances over 80, the ZR+ optics are on their way too. ZR+ is a somewhat different animal because while the signal’s integrity is appropriate for long shots, this strength is not. So ZR+ optics will need to incorporate amplification in designs that use them.

Bidirectional transceivers, which use two wavelengths to link across a single fiber, have some anticipated growth too.  Speeds of 100G and distances up to 10km are going to be hitting the shelves in Q1. Following on their heels will be 20km and 40km by Q2 with greater distances following, perhaps emerging in early ‘23.  The prerequisite for 200G and 400G bidis are 200G and 400G transceivers that use a single wavelength. R&D labs are going to have these single lambda 200-400G links in the coming months, but seeing them miniaturized enough to fit into conventional form factors does not seem likely this year.

As far as fiber goes, we’ve had OM5 multimode and Hollow Core Fiber getting ready to take the world by storm for years now.

OM5 Multimode has a higher Modal Bandwidth than previous optical multimode revisions. This will allow it for high speeds like 400G over a fiber pair, which will be less fiber intensive than 400G SR8s which currently use 16 fibers. 400G duplex optics are not on the market yet and many networks are opting for singlemode infrastructures rather than multimode as the cost disparity between them shrinks and the need for speed increases.

Hollow Core Fiber, or HCF, has been developing for decades. It turns out that air as a medium has some advantages that make it very useful in some cases. Low chromatic dispersion allows high channel density. Low latency, especially at longer distances, also makes it attractive for hyperscale datacenters, entertainment services (gaming), and high-frequency trading.

Going out on a limb, we’re going to say that neither of these technologies is going to make their big splash in 2022. There’s just too much potential to wring out of other fiber solutions to make a paradigm shift happen just yet.

Integra Optics is on the cutting edge. When your network needs the newest and greatest in fiberoptic networking, we’re the reliable partner you can turn to. Here’s to 2022! This year is going to be amazing.