How to Master OFC

February 26, 2019

The Optical Networking and Communication Conference and Exhibition (OFC) is fast approaching, and Kevin Granucci, VP and GM at Phononic, put together a handy guide to help you get the most out of your time at the show. What trends should you be looking for, and how can you best take advantage of the networking and business opportunities at OFC? Read on to find out, in Kevin’s own words…

Top Tips for Making the Most of OFC

Manage your meetings: Because people may run late from previous meetings or be anxious to leave early so they don’t miss the next one, you’ll need to keep your meeting agenda clear and crisp. Drive for an efficient dialogue and keep everyone on task. Set expectations so that everyone understands the need to stay on topic. The goal for your team should be to listen to customers or suppliers and get through all of the important points in a short period of time.

Nuts and mints (sustenance): A few scoops of nuts will come in handy for a quick and healthy energy boost in the afternoon, after you’ve skipped lunch (you didn’t really want that dry convention center roast beef sandwich anyway, right…?). And trust me, you can never have too many mints on hand—especially when talking with potential partners at your booth.

Giveaways for kids (SWAG): 2 p.m. on Thursday will be the magic hour when booth staff is looking to offload their giveaway inventory. After all, who wants to lug all of those pens and toys back to headquarters? Squishy or bouncy balls, and tops that light up with colorful LEDs are always favorites for the kiddos back home, so those are also much more likely to go quickly (and early).

After-show networking: One of the best times to meet prospective partners and swap market information is at the hotel bars each night after the show. A few of my best opportunities arose over Bombay Sapphire gin and tonics in the evenings while catching up with current and former colleagues. Take advantage of our small market where everyone knows everyone, and enjoy mingling (or commiserating) with customers as well. We all need to blow off some steam. If you do end up closing down the bar, just be sure not to send any emails out after you return to your hotel room.

Room service breakfast: Consider this my #1 tip…if your hotel room offers a room service breakfast where you can fill out what you’d like to order on a door slip the night before, definitely take advantage of that. You’ll get a wake-up call at the time you designate and a hot meal full of the energy and calories to start the day and power through a full slate of OFC meetings. It might be a bit expensive, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Top Trends to Look For

400G for datacenters: You can expect to see a ton of 400G OSFP, QSFP-DD DR4/500m and FR4/2km module demonstrations (and maybe even some DR4+/2km?) across the show floor this year, for use in next-generation datacenters. I’ll be keeping a close eye on which solutions are being cooled! And what about the elusive 400G ZR/80km DWDM Coherent module in a similarly-challenging form factor for DCI (datacenter interconnect) applications? Will we see demos right out on the show floor, or will they be tucked away into private meeting rooms? I’m looking forward to finding out—and I know that those will definitely need to be cooled.

Next-generation line side: Look out for next-gen line side development for 600Gb and 1.2Tb module solutions. These devices will need big funding, so watch for the Tier 1 suppliers to be making announcements to the field regarding the status of these solutions. Might there also be companies looking to leapfrog and start promoting 800Gb solutions?

Optics for wireless 5G: 10G? 10G Tunable? 25G? 25G Tunable? 50G? 100G CWDM4/10km? 100G Single λ? It’s all on the table as wireless is essentially the Wild, Wild West of fiber optics architectures. Each one is trying to drive the most cost effective solution possible, and it’s definitely not one size fits all. The single common requirement is parts that are need to work over the Industrial Temperature (I-Temp) range of -40°C to +85°C, so an effective TEC (thermoelectric cooling) solution is needed. If you have questions on this, let me know or find me at the show in booth 2041 – we’re happy to help.

10G PON: This is a newer space for me personally, and one that I’m excited to dive into. 10G EPON, XGS-PON, NG-PON2 all make up a dynamic, hyper-competitive market with huge opportunity (some might even call it ginormous…). The sheer volume of demand that’s expected out of these applications is incredible, but we’ll need to see who dares to venture into this highly cost-competitive market.

Cost reductions: Cost is always a hot topic of discussion. Datacenters are driving cost reductions to help minimize large capex budgets. Meanwhile, wireless 5G is driving cost reductions to try to improve ROI on a new network that’s in demand, but that consumers don’t want to foot the bill for. Access/PON is always—and has always been—first and foremost about cost. Even line side technologies are being driven more and more these days by cost pressures. At OFC, be on the lookout for suppliers who are enabling cost reductions by shifting to new technologies like silicon photonics and non-hermetic TECs. With a non-hermetic TEC solution, you can save by reducing capex on assembly equipment and eliminating the need for gold box packages while maximizing yield by improving laser efficiency with a cooled laser approach. To learn more, read our tech brief.

Are you ready for OFC? Phononic’s team will be there to answer any questions you have about non-hermetic TECs, cooled optics and any other solid-state cooling solutions. Visit us in booth #2041 to learn more. For more details on OFC 2019, taking place March 5-7 in San Diego, visit the show’s website. We hope to see you there!

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