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Emerging Optical Networks for 5G and Beyond

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(Main Features of 5G-oriented Fiber Optical Systems - US National Institutes of Health)



- The Main Features of 5G and 5G-oriented Optical Systems

The objective of 5G wireless technology is to support three generic services with vastly heterogeneous requirements: enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine-type communications (mMTC), and ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC). eMBB supports stable connections with very high peak data rates, as well as moderate rates for cell-edge users; mMTC supports a massive number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which are only sporadically active and send small data payloads; URLLC supports low-latency transmissions of small payloads with very high reliability from a limited set of terminals, which are active according to patterns typically specified by outside events, such as alarms.

Service heterogeneity can be accommodated by network slicing, through which each service is allocated resources to provide performance guarantees and isolation from the other services. Slicing of the Radio Access Network (RAN) is typically done by means of orthogonal resource allocation among the services. 

The main features of 5G and 5G-oriented Fiber Optical Systems (diagrams above):

  • Diagram (A): Illustration of the main features and use cases of 5G.
  • Diagram (B): The main features and technologies of fiber-optic networks in the 5G era. AR, augmented reality; VR, virtual reality; IoT, internet of things; UHD, ultra-high-definition; PDM, polarization-division multiplexing; QPSK, quadrature-phase-shift keying; nQAM, n-point quadrature-amplitude modulation, EDFA, Erbium-doped fiber amplifier; MD-ROADM, multi-degree reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexer; CDC, colorless-directionless-contentionless; WSS: wavelength-selective switch; AI, artificial intelligence; ML, machine learning.


- Next-generation Optical Access Network Supporting Ultra-broadband Services and 5G/6G Mobile networks

Optical fiber network technology is regarded as the cornerstone of the next generation of communication in modern society. Among many key links in the physical infrastructure of optical communication, the optical access network plays an important role in the end-to-end broadband network connection. The next-generation optical access network is expected to provide ultra-large-capacity, low-latency, high-reliability, and high-security ultra-broadband services, and support various ultra-high-bandwidth applications such as cloud/edge networks and 8K video streaming services, as well as the upcoming physical 3D holographic communication and digital reproduction of the world. Additionally, optical access networks are playing an increasing role in mobile networks and will become more prominent in 5G/6G due to their need for extreme bandwidth, coverage, synchronization and low latency requirements. 

The success of future mobile networks is not just about new radio access technologies. The deployment of future wireless technologies will depend on the ability of the optical access network to seamlessly connect to the radio access network (RAN) and edge/cloud computing resources. Combining the advantages of optical access technology and wireless access technology into a unified converged platform will help telecom service providers reduce network complexity, reduce operating costs, improve service quality, and optimize between different access technologies Allocate resources and serve as a springboard for new services. Many convergence and access technologies for optical networks are being developed to increase throughput, improve energy efficiency, and simplify network design, deployment, and operations.


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[San Francisco, CA - Civil Engineering Discoveries]

- Optical Networks 2020 (ON2020)

Optical Networks 2020 (ON2020) is a global association that drives innovative optical network solutions to better meet the optical networking demands in the cloud era towards year 2020 and beyond. 

This IEEE Industry Connections (IC) activity aims to define new optical network requirements and specifications, develop general network technology roadmaps and evolution scenarios, and foster an open and sustainable ecosystem for end users, service providers, and equipment and component vendors to collectively address the optical networking demands in the cloud era. Freed from near-term thinking, competition, and looking beyond existing standardization efforts, the program will help to set longer-term goals and directions that the fiber-optic communications industry should be expected to work towards.

Deliverables and outcomes from this IC activity are expected to include forward-looking technical studies and white papers summarizing the developed vision and overall industry directions. Current activities cover the areas of transport SDN, ROADM/OXC, 5G-oriented optical networks, and next-generation WDM and optical link technologies.


- Emerging Optical Networks for 5G and Beyond

On a longer-term horizon, pointing towards beyond-5G (or 6G), new challenging technical directions are arising that promise to revolutionize users’ network experience (to name a few, multi-sensorial and holographic communication, pervasive machine learning, coordination of heterogeneous access technologies, quantum communication). 

While this is a vision and the exact definitions of the new services have yet to be clearly identified, future service requirements will be further exacerbated in terms of capacity, latency, reconfigurability, reliability and security, and simply scaling up the present mode of operation in optical networks is not an option. A redesign that feature in-built physical security, sub-linear bandwidth scaling costs, extreme low-latency, and reconfigurability will be needed. New, possibly disruptive, solutions must be investigated, both at data and control plane. 

This novel research contributions on topics that include (but are not limited to):  

  • Optical Spatial Division Multiplexed (SDM) Networks
  • Quantum-key secure optical networks and physical layer security issues in 5G transport networks
  • Tera-scale optical networks for beyond 5G application holographic and sensual communications
  • Beyond-5G Passive Optical Networks (PON)
  • Time-sensitive and time-deterministic optical networks  
  • Optical network control, management and orchestration including SDN and NFV solutions
  • Multi-layer and –domain optical networks, including network disaggregation and white-boxes
  • Slicing, service chaining, virtualization and multi-tenancy techniques for optical networks
  • Optical and wireless network convergence, including radio-over-fiber access networks
  • Machine Learning and data analytics techniques for optical networks
  • Optical network availability, resilience, survivability, security
  • Filterless architectures for optical core, regional and urban aggregation networks 
  • Optical metro edge and access aggregation convergence
  • Convergence of optical access and mobile broadband systems for new radio access networks
  • Evolution of passive optical network (PON) for 50G and 100G data rate, and/or high split ratio and extended reach
  • New fiber-wireless integrated radio access network architecture design and system interface
  • New use cases for converged optical and wireless access networks
  • Future softwarization and virtualization of optical access networks
  • Applications of AI/ML in performance improvement and network telemetry in optical and radio access networks
  • New advancements in improving the latency, reliability, protection, and security of optical access networks
  • Dynamic bandwidth allocation (DBA) algorithms and multiple media access control (MAC) mechanisms
  • Software-defined access and network slicing
  • PON architectures for low latency and high-capacity mesh interconnect of edge nodes
  • New use cases and standards development for next-generation PONs
  • Techno-economics of analysis of optical access enabling dense 5G and beyond deployments


[More to come ...]


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