Living the Future
Posted by ECI Staff on 11 Feb 2012
Last week, I had the privilege of sneaking into a conversation between our CTO team and a local journalist about the advances we have made so far with the Tera Santa Consortium.
The Tera Santa Consortium was formed back in 2011, by seven leading Israeli companies and five universities, to develop the world’s first Terabit optical network, based on 1 Tera bit per second coherent Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) optical links.
ECI sees the Tera Santa Consortium as a strategic initiative that can have significant impact on how the Israeli optical telecom sector advances and positions itself in the next few years. Now in its third year of operation, we sat down to talk about what we achieved and the advantages of doing it in a multi-disciplinary environment involving both industry and academia.
The Tera-Santa consortium’s scope of work is very wide, covering digital signal processing algorithms, optical front end components based on silicon photonics (low cost, low power) technology, subsyetms integration, including 1Tbps transceiver, 1Tbps transponder, and add/drop transceiver, and the innovative “optical cognitive network” concept, resulting in a “new” Coherent degree-of-freedom parameters integrated into the network.
The journalist was interested to hear how such multi-company and multi-industry consortium works for best cooperation and how much time people are investing in the project. The consortium is organized in workgroups, each leaded by a valuable industry representative, having half-day monthly meetings, with clear research and development objectives. Each academic research is accompanied by a company, guiding the research towards practical objectives. The openness and level of cooperation we were able to achieve in the consortium is notable. Actually, we put in long hours, not because we have to, but because we are passionate about the field we work in, eager to achieve a breakthrough.
So while we can see the academia engaging in this kind of exercise, the question we all want to ask is, what’s in it for a business like ECI? (which is exactly the question that Mr. Reporter posed, by the way).
The truth is that, in a consortium like Tera Santa, we have companies and universities that usually don’t sit together in one room, trying to figure out the challenges that plague all of us, in different aspects – some of us are component manufacturers, some of us are subsystem vendors and some are network system developers, and we all bring a different point of view to the table. This mix of ideas and perspectives in such a multidisciplinary team speeds up the research and innovation process.
By the end of August 2013, the Tera Santa Consortium expects to have a generic prototype demonstrating 1T bit per second optical link. It is likely that the Consortium will continue its activities for another couple of years, to advance even further the concept of 1T communications (just to put things in perspective, right now ECI have only a few 100G commercial projects being deployed in the world.) We are talking about a serious jump in the capacity of our networks, to a point when we need to develop a transceiver that’s small enough, inexpensive enough, and efficient enough to make it viable for commercial deployment.
I have no doubt that we’ll get to there and even farther. Less than ten years ago, broadband was defined by any speed over 2Mb/s. How far have we gone... We will continue to push the envelope. As the saying goes, the sky is the limit.