NEW YORK - With more and more optical network automation, one task has remained manual: fiber connections. But now, as the result of research conducted by Verizon, that is likely to change.
In a comprehensive field trial, Verizon has demonstrated that automating fiber-optic cross connects, or AFOX, makes it possible to remotely perform such tasks as switching traffic from working fibers to spare fibers, finding alternative fiber routes, connecting test equipment to network elements, and sending test signals through fiber at unmanned sites.
The trial shows that by automating one of the last remaining network functions, improvements can be demonstrated in overall network performance and management.
"This trial highlights the advantages of automating fiber management - from improving network performance to reaping the benefits of creating a comprehensive database of network connections," said Mark Wegleitner, Verizon senior vice president of corporate network and technology. "It also creates new opportunities in areas such as equipment deployment, network design, and customer service."
Automated fiber management is the use of technology, as opposed to direct human touch, to make fiber connections. While automated fiber-optic cross connects improve fiber management, the technology also changes the way network elements are connected, resulting in additional advantages. For example, AFOX could provide new features such as load balancing and flexible connections for Verizon's FiOS services. Additionally, AFOX can facilitate optical power monitoring, fiber-cut detection and traffic protection and restoration.
"We're confident that any type of network can benefit from AFOX, from undersea cable systems to ultra long-haul terrestrial networks to metropolitan, local and wireless networks," said Glenn Wellbrock, director of backbone network design for Verizon. "Because all fiber connections are set up automatically with AFOX, the results are more efficient network operations and a reduced number of visits to remote network sites to make fiber connections. AFOX also establishes more complete and real-time databases that provide network operations staff a better view of network activity."
Introducing AFOX not only improves upon manual fiber connections but also creates a host of new capabilities that fiber networks have never had before. One feature is the "maintenance-friendly network" whereby network traffic can be easily switched between network elements for short periods of time, such as during network construction.
Verizon's trial highlighted three different switch technologies: 3D microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS), piezoelectric beam steering and robotic fiber connections.
Each technology has its own specific advantages. The 3D MEMS are compact and support a relatively large number of connections. Piezoelectric beam steering is a relatively fast switch, while the robotic approach best mimics current manual patching.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 66 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 235,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.