Mobile Optical Pluggables (MOPA) Technical Whitepaper

Nokia, Ericsson, II-VI, Lumentum and Sumitomo Electric published a joint technical paper making the case for reducing the wide choice of Mobile Optical Pluggables (MOPA) used to connect cell sites to fiber optic networks. The co-authors of the paper have recommended predefined optical blueprints that help operators speed up time to market using a common list of optical pluggable modules in a market worth $500 million per year.

Optical pluggables are defined as front-panel pluggable optical transceivers in popular form factors like SFP+, SFP28, QSFP28, etc. and the Blueprints are intended as global solutions, i.e., as generic as possible to cover a wide range of network scenarios.

The first-time joint industry initiative, published in time for the Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition, lays out a set of Mobile Optical Blueprints which describe the most optimized optical pluggable modules and passive optical components. Recommendations include optical characteristics such as data rates, reach, power, wavelengths as well as mechanical characteristics such as form factor, heat dissipation and operational temperature.

Ian Redpath, Practice Leader, Transport Networks and Components at Omdia said:  “In a 5G world, optical pluggables will be utilized to connect cell sites to the network core. Network operators are currently challenged with assessing many pluggable variations, increasing their qualification work load and slowing time to deploy. MOPA will streamline efforts for the connectivity community, enabling cost reductions and reducing time to deploy.”

Stefaan Vanhastel, CTO Nokia Fixed Networks said: “Fiber is a critical component of 5G rollouts and provides unmatched capacity for 5G transport. A clear overview of available optics strategies makes it easier to design and deploy 5G networks. We are pleased to be joining forces with Ericsson, II-VI, Lumentum and Sumitomo Electric on this vital initiative which will make the choice for fiber even more compelling in the transport domain.”


Mobile Optical Pluggables (MOPA) Technical Paper, June 8, 2021

NeoPhotonics CFP2-DCO Module Transmission of 400Gbps over 1500 km

Optical components maker NeoPhotonics said it was able to transmit data at 400 Gbps over a distance of 1500 km, using its Multi-Rate CFP2-DCO coherent pluggable transceivers, in a 75 GHz-spaced DWDM network.

The demonstration was done in NeoPhotonics Transmission System Testbed using production modules with enhanced firmware and 19 in-line erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFA).

To achieve 1,500 km reach and a 400G data rate, the modules were operated at 69 Gbaud using 16 QAM modulation. NeoPhotonics added that the modules each consumed considerably less electrical power than line card systems operating at comparable data rates and distances. These 400G CFP2-DCO coherent pluggable transceiver modules use NeoPhotonics Indium Phosphide-based coherent components, along with its ultra-narrow linewidth tunable laser. These components include Class 40 CDM, Class 40 Micro-ICR and Nano-ITLA.

These 400G CFP2-DCO coherent pluggable transceiver modules use NeoPhotonics high performance Indium Phosphide-based coherent components, along with its ultra-narrow linewidth tunable laser. These components are all shipping in high volume into multiple coherent system applications, and include:

  • Class 40 CDM: NeoPhotonics Class 40, polarization multiplexed, quadrature coherent driver modulator (CDM) features a co-packaged InP modulator with a linear, high bandwidth, differential driver, and is designed for low V-Pi, low insertion loss and a high extinction ratio. The compact package is designed to be compliant with the form factor of the OIF Implementation Agreement #OIF-HB-CDM-01.0.
  • Class 40 Micro-ICR: NeoPhotonics Class 40 High Bandwidth Micro-Intradyne Coherent Receiver (Micro-ICR) is designed for >60 GBaud symbol rates. The compact package is designed to be compliant with the OIF Implementation Agreement OIF-DPC-MRX-02.0.
  • Nano-ITLA: NeoPhotonics Nano-ITLA is based on the same proven and reliable high performance external cavity architecture as NeoPhotonics’ industry leading Micro-ITLA and maintains comparable ultra-narrow linewidth, low frequency phase noise and the low power consumption in a compact package approximately one half the size.

NeoPhotonics Multi-Rate CFP2-DCO modules are fully qualified. Telcordia testing has been successfully extended to 2000 hours of High Temperature Operating Life (HTOL) testing, showing the high reliability and performance of NeoPhotonics CFP2-DCO platform.

Multi-Rate CFP2-DCO modules supporting Metro (64G baud/DP-16 QAM) and Long Haul (64 G baud/DP-QPSK) applications are shipping in General Availability.

“Coupled with our recent demonstration of 800 km 400 Gbps transmission using our 400ZR+ QSFP-DD, our CFP2-DCO 400G 1500 km transmission brings the use of pluggable modules in regional and long haul networks closer to reality,” said Tim Jenks, Chairman and CEO of NeoPhotonics. “The ability to implement a long haul coherent transponder in the size and power envelope of a pluggable module is a testament to the progress that has been made in photonic integration and DSP development, and has the potential to be a game changer for telecom as well as DCI networks,” concluded Mr. Jenks.

June 8, 2021 Update:

NeoPhotonics announced that its QSFP-DD and OSFP 400ZR pluggable modules are in General Availability and shipping to customers.

These products utilize NeoPhotonics Silicon Photonics Coherent Optical Subassembly (COSA) and low power consumption, ultra-narrow linewidth Nano-ITLA tunable laser, combined with the latest generation of 7 nm node DSP (digital signal processing) technology, to provide full 400ZR transmission in a standard data center QSFP-DD or OSFP form factor that can be plugged directly into switches and routers. This greatly simplifies and cost reduces data center interconnect (DCI) networks by enabling the elimination of a layer of network equipment and a set of short reach client-side transceivers, and paves the way for similar benefits in metro networks.

These 400G modules are compliant with the OIF 400ZR Implementation Agreement and are interoperable with other manufacturers’ 400ZR modules that utilize a standard forward error correction (FEC) encoder and decoder.  These modules are capable of tuning to and transmitting within 75 GHz or 100GHz spaced wavelength channels, as specified in the OIF agreement, and operate in 400ZR mode for Cloud DCI applications.  For longer metro reaches, the modules are designed to support 400ZR+ modes.

NeoPhotonics QSFP-DD and OSFP modules have completed reliability qualification and have passed 2000 hours of High Temperature Operating Life (HTOL) as well as other critical tests per Telcordia requirements.

The company recently announced that it had used its QSFP-DD coherent pluggable transceiver to transmit at a 400 Gbps data rate over a distance of 800 km in a 75GHz-spaced DWDM system with more than 3.5 dB of OSNR margin in the optical signal while remaining within the power consumption envelope of the QSFP-DD module’s power specification.

“This demonstration of high data rates over longer distances shows the potential of these game-changing products, and we expect to see increasing deployment of coherent pluggable modules with different use cases, from data center interconnect to metro and regional applications as well as 5G wireless backhaul,” said Tim Jenks, Chairman and CEO of NeoPhotonics.  “Since the beginning of coherent transmission, NeoPhotonics has been at the forefront in meeting the volume needs of our customers, as is indicated by our recent announcement that we had shipped a cumulative total of more than two million ultra-narrow linewidth tunable lasers,” concluded Mr. Jenks.

About NeoPhotonics:

NeoPhotonics is a leading developer and manufacturer of lasers and optoelectronic solutions that transmit, receive and switch high-speed digital optical signals for Cloud and hyper-scale data center internet content provider and telecom networks. The Company’s products enable cost-effective, high-speed over distance data transmission and efficient allocation of bandwidth in optical networks. NeoPhotonics maintains headquarters in San Jose, California and ISO 9001:2015 certified engineering and manufacturing facilities in Silicon Valley (USA), Japan and China. For additional information visit


Internet 2’s Next Generation Infrastructure team deploys 800Gbps optical link

On February 26, 2021, Internet2 deployed its first 800 Gbps single-carrier optical circuit between Phoenix and Tucson, AZ as part of its Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI) program.

This milestone marks the first 800G native link to be deployed by a U.S. research and education network.   The optical circuit leverages a 102 Ghz carrier generated by a single Ciena Waveserver 5 transponder at each endpoint.

Optical Power Spectrum graphic

On February 25, 2021, the Internet2 project team completed the upgrade of all Reconfigurable Optical Add-Drop Multiplexers (ROADMs) to flex spectrum on all east-west long-haul routes nationwide. Additionally, the majority of the optical fiber was upgraded from LEAF to SMF28 to better match the coherent transmission technologies being used to convey the new 800 Gbps optical link.

Flex-grid ROADM and fiber route upgrade status as of February 25. Red segments and sites have been upgraded. Black segments are additional route upgrades being made as fiber becomes available. 

Internet2 plans to rapidly expand its 400G and 800G transmission capabilities along these newly flex-grid enabled routes; more link capacity will come online as our phase 2 hardware deployment team (GDT) continues to move across the country. The Internet2 team is deploying the Cisco 8200 and Ciena Waveserver 5 platform. Completion is targeted for the end of this month (March 2021).

The successful deployment of this initial 800 Gbps optical link is the culmination of thousands of hours of effort from both the Internet2 community and teams in many organizations, including Internet2, GlobalNOC at Indiana University, Ciena, Lumen, and GDT.

Just two weeks ago, Telefonica said it had trialed an 800 Gbps optical link, using Huawei and Nokia network equipment.  However, there are no 800 Gps links in any commercial production network, as far as we can determine.


First Internet2 Next Generation Infrastructure 800G Single-carrier Link Online; Long-haul, Flex-grid Deployment Complete

Telefonica in 800 Gbps trial and network slicing pilot test


Windstream Wholesale and Infinera Complete Successful Trial of LR8-Based 400GbE Client-Side Services

Windstream’s Wholesale Division recently completed a 400 gigabit Ethernet (400 GE)  trial pairing the client-side transmission with 400GbE-LR8 QSFP-DD pluggable interfaces on Infinera’s platform.  Transmission used a single-carrier 600G wavelength, which the companies announced as an industry first.
Pluggables have gained momentum in optical technology as web-scale companies, service providers and data center operators look to deploy some 400G gear this year and even more next year.
“The ability to support 400GbE services with a wide-variety of client interfaces and to carry those services across metro, regional and long-haul distances enables Windstream to seamlessly support their customers’ evolving connectivity needs,” said Infinera’s said Glenn Laxdal, senior vice president and general manager of product management, in a press release.
Infinera’s 600-Gbps enabled Groove (GX) G30 Compact Modular Platform was used in the 400 GE trial.  A G30 version of the Groove was fitted with a 2x600G per wavelength muxponder via a CHM-2T sled. The 400GbE service was carried via a single-carrier 600-Gbps wavelength.Coriant, which originally developed the Groove platform, announced 600-Gbps capabilities for the system shortly before the company was acquired by Infinera in 2018 (see “Coriant adds 600G transmission to Groove via CloudWave T” and “Infinera closes Coriant acquisition”).
800G, 600G, 400G
Image Courtesy of Infinera
Windstream Wholesale’s optical infrastructure was designed to support high-speed optical services using state-of-the-art flex grid spectrum and flexible colorless-directionless-contentionless (CDC) architecture. Flex grid, which is often paired with CDC, allows service providers to optimize the allocation of spectrum on long-haul fiber based on the required speed and reach of each wavelength.  All of this enables Windstream to tap into cost-effective 400G today, with 600G and 800G wavelengths available down the road.

“Our customers’ bandwidth requirements are growing rapidly, and Windstream is increasing network capacity to meet this demand,” said Buddy Bayer, chief network officer at Windstream. “Infinera’s GX G30 Compact Modular Platform provides an ultra-efficient transport solution enabling us to offer 400GbE services to support our customers’ high-bandwidth needs.  The use of LR8 clients with a single mode fiber interface and a 10-kilometer reach provides an extremely cost-effective solution by enabling us to extend these services directly to our customers’ premises.”

Windstream Wholesale is currently engaging with customers for initial deployment of the end-to-end 400G Wave service. For more information on how you can bring 400G Wave services to your company, call 1-866-375-6040.

To view the Windstream network map, visit

About Windstream

Windstream Holdings, Inc., a FORTUNE 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications and technology solutions. Windstream provides data networking, core transport, security, unified communications and managed services to mid-market, enterprise and wholesale customers across the U.S. The company also offers broadband, entertainment and security services for consumers and small and medium-sized businesses primarily in rural areas in 18 states. Services are delivered over multiple network platforms including a nationwide IP network, our proprietary cloud core architecture and on a local and long-haul fiber network spanning approximately 150,000 miles. Additional information is available at or Please visit our newsroom at or follow us on Twitter at @Windstream.

About Infinera

Infinera is a global supplier of innovative networking solutions that enable carriers, cloud operators, governments, and enterprises to scale network bandwidth, accelerate service innovation, and automate network operations. The Infinera end-to-end packet optical portfolio delivers industry-leading economics and performance in long-haul, submarine, data center interconnect, and metro transport applications. To learn more about Infinera, visit, follow us on Twitter @Infinera, and read our latest blog posts at

Windstream Media Contact
Scott Morris, 501-748-5342

Infinera Media Contact
Anna Vue, (916) 595-8157

Source: Windstream Holdings, Inc.


Cignal AI: North American Optical Sales Rebound In 2019

Long Haul WDM Spending Reaches Record Levels:

Recent optical equipment sales in North America were encouraging – up more than 25% for 4Q19 and 10% for all of 2019 according to the most recent Transport Hardware Report from research firm Cignal AI.

The North American packet market for Access and Aggregation routing devices also grew strongly in the fourth quarter as demand for Edge and Core switching and routing dropped off dramatically. 5G and other access rollouts boosted growth in the Access and Aggregation market segment.
“After three years of North American spending declines as operators focused capex on wireless and access, optical hardware sales for the region revived and grew at a healthy pace for 2019, while packet hardware sales remained flat,” said Scott Wilkinson, Lead Analyst at Cignal AI. “Market leaders Ciena, Infinera, and Cisco all achieved optical sales growth of more than 25% in 2019.”
2019 NA Transport Hardware Growth
Cignal AI’s Transport Hardware Report is issued each quarter and examines optical and packet transport equipment revenue across all regions and equipment types. The analysis is based on financial results, independent research, and guidance from individual equipment companies. Forecasts are based on expected spending trends for equipment types within the regions.

Additional 4Q19 Transport Hardware Report Findings:

  • Long haul optical spending reached record levels in 2019. Growth slowed in 4Q19 but the segment finished the year up over 10%.
  • Transport equipment sales in China declined slightly in 4Q19 as packet sales declined and optical sales growth cooled to single digits. When adjusted for the influence of ZTE’s shutdown in 2Q18, optical hardware sales grew less than 10% in 2019.
  • Japan ended an extraordinary year of optical sales growth up 25% in Q4 and almost 40% in 2019.

Transport Hardware Superdashboard:

Cignal AI’s Transport Hardware Superdashboard is available to clients of the report and provides up-to-date market data and real-time visibility on the hardware market, including individual vendors’ results as they are released. Users can manipulate variables online and see information in a variety of useful ways.

About the Transport Hardware Report

The Cignal AI Transport Hardware Report is published quarterly and includes market share and forecasts for optical and packet transport hardware used in service provider networks worldwide. In addition to the interactive Superdashboard, analysis includes a detailed Excel database as well as PDF and PowerPoint summaries. Subscribers to the Transport Hardware Report also have access to Active Insight, Cignal AI’s real-time news service on current market events.
The report examines revenue for metro WDM, long-haul WDM and submarine (SLTE) optical equipment, and access, aggregation, edge, and core packet equipment in six global regions. Vendors in the report include Adtran, ADVA, Ciena, Cisco, ECI, Ekinops, Fiberhome, Fujitsu, Huawei, Infinera, Juniper, Mitsubishi Electric, NEC, Nokia, Padtec, Tejas, Xtera, and ZTE. A full report description, as well as articles and presentations, are available on the Cignal AI website.

About Cignal AI:

Cignal AI provides active and insightful market research for the networking component and equipment market and the market’s end customers. Our work blends expertise from a variety of disciplines to create a uniquely informed perspective on the evolution of networking communications.

Contact Cignal AI/Purchase Report:

Web: Contact us

CoBank: Secular Tailwinds Support Current Fiber Optic Company Valuations

Fiber network consolidation has driven up the value of fiber optic networks for strategic buyers and infrastructure funds, says rural communications infrastructure financing company CoBank in a new report. As CoBank notes, the number of fiber networks available for acquisition has declined, causing the report authors to speculate that investors will turn their attention next to regional cable operators and potentially to rural local exchange carriers (RLECs).

Driving fiber consolidation and fiber network values is Americans’ growing demand for bandwidth, the report states. The authors cite research from Deloitte that forecasts the need for an estimated $130 billion to $150 billion in fiber infrastructure investment over the next five to seven years. Key demand drivers include broadband competition, rural coverage and wireless densification.

Building fiber networks takes a long time and as operators race to meet the expected surge in demand, a build/lease hybrid model will likely continue to play out over the next several years. Institutional investor interest in the fiber market should continue given the underlying demand drivers and predictable revenue streams these networks offer.

Given the relatively high entry barriers in the fiber market and consumers’ insatiable demand for data, there do not appear to be many glaring risks to fiber valuations. Oversupply is the most obvious one, but this is more region-specific than any kind of systemic risk, particularly given the proliferation of data usage.

Considering the amount of industry consolidation and scarcity of acquisition candidates, fiber-rich cable operators could become attractive assets for both institutional investors and strategic buyers. All of these factors paint a positive picture for future fiber valuations.

According to CoBank, fiber valuations have increased approximately 30% over the last 12 months, and some buyers have paid multiples above 20 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

The authors caution that “there is clearly a disconnect between public (e.g. fiber operator Zayo) and private fiber valuations.” The report attributes this disparity to “volatility in equity markets and waning investor confidence that have resulted in public valuations coming in much lower than private valuations.”

CoBank doesn’t see lower public company valuations negatively impacting those of private companies, however.

“Infrastructure funds have a much longer time horizon, and strategic buyers enjoy synergies that will allow them to pay a higher multiple versus myopically focused public equity investors,” the authors wrote.

Fiber Network Consolidation
The CoBank report references several key fiber network acquisitions by strategic buyers and foreign infrastructure funds, including:

  • Macquarie Infrastructure’s plan to purchase Bluebird Network in conjunction with Uniti Group
  • European-based EQT purchasing a majority stake in Spirit Communications and EQT’s plan to combine those operations with Lumos
  • Antin Infrastructure Partners purchase of FirstLight Fiber
  • Crown Castle’s purchase of Lightower, Wilcon Holdings and Fibernet Holdings

With so many deals in the rear-view mirror, CoBank noted that FiberLight, which has 14,000 route miles of fiber, is one of few remaining privately held fiber network operators that has yet to be acquired.

As a result, CoBank argues that strategic buyers and infrastructure funds are likely to begin taking a closer look at those regional cable operators that have been investing in fiber and at “progressive RLECs” that have been investing in fiber to offset their declining regulated revenues.

Although CoBank didn’t specifically identify the category, it would seem that statewide and regional fiber networks owned by RLEC consortia might be a particularly attractive category for such investors.



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LightCounting: Optical Transceiver Sales Increased in 2Q-2018 despite ZTE shutdown

Sales of optical transceivers rose sequentially and held their own year-on-year, according to LightCounting. The market research firm’s “September 2018 Quarterly Market Update Report” states that strong demand for Ethernet optics for data center and enterprise applications, as well as improvements in worldwide wireless front haul and FTTx optics interest, provided a boost for fiber optic transceiver sales in 2Q-2018.  That’s despite demand for DWDM transceivers hit a multiyear low due to the temporary shutdown of Chinese vendor ZTE.

LightCounting reported that shipments of 100GbE SR4 and CWDM4 modules in the first half of the year exceeded their expectations. The opposite was true of all other 100GbE transceivers, with several suppliers citing excess inventory at Amazon as a drag on 100GbE PSM4 sales. However, demand for 10GbE transceivers was very strong in the first six months of this year; unit shipments grew by more than 20%, according to the new report. The majority of these modules went to applications in enterprise networks. Cisco reported a 42% increase in the number of 10GbE ports shipped into this market in 1H18. And even 1GbE transceiver sales grew slightly in Q2 2018, LightCounting added.

LightCounting Global sales of optical transceivers 1Q16 to 2Q18

                                                                                Sales of optical transceivers picked up sequentially during the second quarter of 2018. (Source: LightCounting)


Looking at the market from a fiber optic transceiver customer perspective, Internet Content Providers (ICPs) spent 80% more on their  optical infrastructures in the first half of 2018 than during the same time in 2017. Communications Service Providers (CSPs) also increased their spending during this year’s first half versus 2017, although by only 2.6%.

The LightCounting 2Q-2018 report was more positive than either IHS-Markit or Cignal AI which both found the optical hardware market struggling in this year’s second quarter.  

Looking ahead, LightCounting expects DWDM module sales to pick up now that ZTE is back in business. The company cited the fact that Acacia Communications executives anticipate a nearly 40% sequential increase in third quarter 2018 sales, with ZTE responsible for 60% of that.

The new “Quarterly Market Update” includes data and commentary on the Q2 2018 financial results of CSPs, ICPs, networking hardware, optical components, modules, and semiconductor chip makers. It also includes shipment data through Q2 2018 for more than 100 optical transceiver and wavelength selective switch (WSS) products.

LightCounting Contact Info:  Tel: 408.962.4851        Email:

Press Release for this report: