07 March 2018
| Natalie Bannerman
Viavi Solutions is partnering with Microsemi, a provider of semiconductor solutions to develop flexible optical networking technologies for 5G.
Using Viavi’s ONT-600 Flex-E solution and
Microsemi’s DIGI-G5 offering the new 5G ecosystem
will enable telecom service providers to build, test and deploy
5G-ready optical networks including OTUCn, Flexible OTN (FlexO)
and Flexible Ethernet (FlexE) technologies.
Speaking exclusively to
Capacity, Andreas Schubert, senior product manager at
Viavi Solutions, said: "With this press release we see two
things. First of all we see the investment of (Optical
Transport Network) OTN. Investment like this
hasn’t been seen since around 2010. The second is
that both Microsemi and Viavi were talking about a FlexE
technology which is an Ethernet-based technology and China
Mobile wants to use this application for 5G."
"As service providers look to scale up their optical
networks in preparation for 5G, our customers need new OTN 3.0
capabilities delivering rate-agile flexible connectivity
underpinned by OTN switching at terabit capacities to market,"
said Babak Samimi, vice president and business unit manager for
Microsemi’s communications business unit. "With
the ecosystem in place between Microsemi and VIAVI, leading OTN
transport OEMs can begin development of a new wave of products
that enable support for OTUCn, FlexE and FlexO capabilities
As communication service providers test 5G network
requirements, the transport network becomes a key focus of
that, necessitating an architecture capable of supporting
bandwidth, traffic modelling, network slicing, latency and time
synchronisation features. China Mobile is planning to adopt
Slicing Packet Network (SPN) with FlexE for its 5G transport
network, while other carriers like China Telecom are pursuing
OTN with enhancements like Mobile optimised OTN (M-OTN).
"What’s also coming in now is that 5G is
getting two flavours," added Schubert. "One coming from China
Mobile,the other is coming very strongly from China Telecom.
They want to have OTN-based 5G. It’s still very
early as it’s still in the development stage,
it’s not yet in the field that will come later
"VIAVI is pleased to be part of the ecosystem with Microsemi
to support the network requirements of leading carriers
worldwide," said Tom Fawcett, vice president and general
manager of the lab and production business unit at VIAVI
Solutions. "The advent of 5G will require robust, scalable and
coordinated technology development across the entire industry.
Our technology leadership and deep relationships make us the
ideal partner for this initiative."
Despite the technical benefits of a partnership between the
two, Schubert says that Microsemi has been a long-time
collaborator with Viavi and they share many of the same
customers who were all asking for the same solution. Adding:
"the partnership had to be one that could benefit us and them
Schubert spoke about how IoT is impacting business at Viavi
to which he replied: "When people speak about IoT they speak
about the user part, the wireless part. What we need and what
we’re focusing on is the core network, we need new
technologies, we need enhancements for functionality. IoT is a
driving factor but in the sense that we’re doing
the heavy lifting carrying everything from point A to point
But on the network side he says it’s more about
the functionality of IoT not the volume of it that poses the
"From a volume perspective I think that will be feasible but
the other aspects such as delay times, the need to optimise the
networks," said Schubert "We have to build more infrastructure,
we need to roll-out more fibre out over time."
Viavi’s ONT-600 Flex-E solution has the
industry’s first 400G support to include forward
error correction (FEC), PAM4 modulation, and now with complete
support of all 400G transponder form factors including CFP8,
QSFPDD, and OSFP. The ONT can also scale with a range of
applications to address inflection points such as FlexE, OTUCn
As for Microsemi’s DIGI-G5 OTN processor, it
delivers up to 1.2Tbps of combined OTN and client interfaces,
and according to the company is first to market with newly
standardised 25 Gigabit Ethernet (GE), 50GE, 200GE, 400GE,
Flexible OTN (FlexO & OTUCn) and FlexE with an integrated
security engine enabling flexible encrypted optical
connections. DIGI-G5 enables packet optical transport platforms
to triple in capacity while slashing power consumption by 50%
Schubert says that the new solution will have some
security-based enhancements for sure, but "we’re a
little bit too early in the development stage to really know
what that will be."
But the plan for the rest of the year is "standardisation
and getting the technology to market with installation
hopefully by 2019."