Next Generation Optical Networking Africa

Interview with Anuradha Udunuwara, Senior Engineer, Sri Lanka Telecom

Ahead of the Next Generation Optical Networking Africa, (2-3 February 2016, Cape Town), we’ve conducted an exclusive interview with Anuradha Udunuwara, Senior Engineer Sri Lanka Telecom, about his upcoming contribution and his opinions on the key challenges and developments within the optical networking industry.

What are you looking forward to at the Next Generation Optical Africa 2016?

I’ve been sharing the Sri Lankan DWDM/optical backbone story in IIR’s NG Optical Networking series since 2014 in all across the globe – Asia, North America and Europe. This is the time to do the same for Africa. I’ll be speaking on “Building Sri Lanka’s 1st DWDM backbone and empowering the nation with FTTH” on day 2 and will also be participating in a panel discussion (Debating the Evolution Beyond 100G in Africa). While sharing my experience/knowledge, I’m very much looking forward to meet new friends and hear their stories – making my visit a mutually beneficial one.

What do you feel are the main challenges that the optical networking industry is facing in 2016 both in the Africa region and what do you hope the conference will answer?

There are always challenges and they vary from region to region. Africa is different from other regions from many ways – large land mass, extreme weather conditions,  different development levels etc. This, I think make the challenges also different. For me, the optical networking industry in Africa needs to focus more on connecting the unconnected (places and people) than anything else. While the common challenges in this industry – the never ending question of getting higher capacities/bandwidth with a limited set of resources and  bringing TCO down- will equally applicable to Africa. I’m also interested in learning more about the unique challenges in Africa.

Where has 100G has taken us so far and where is 400G & 1T likely to take us?

100G has taken this industry a long way and within a very short period of time it has now become the new 10G. While the new modulation techniques, increased baud rates and  super channels will take us to 200G, 400G, 1T, 2 T and so on, the main issue to be solved is the “distance”. This industry, once reached all the physical limitations, will have to go back to Space Division Multiplexing (SDM) and look from a different angle in solving the capacity problem. Remember, the journey of this industry so far is from SDM to TDM to WDM.

Optical Data Centre Interconnect was a hot topic at NGON Nice in June & NGON USA in October, what is the status of Optical DCI in Africa?

I’m not really sure about the current status of optical DCI in Africa. On a different note, looking at the big picture, having DCs in Africa and controlling temperature, with low energy consumption and low carbon footprint are major challenges for me.

What are you views on Packet Optical Integration, OTN and ROADMs and their role in the next generation optical network?

Telecom industry is one of the rapidly evolving/changing industries in the world. With the new concepts of moving to SGN-Software Generation Networks (from legacy and NGN-Next Generation Networks)at all levels/layers;  consolidation, convergence, collapsing, centralizing and flattening of networks seems to be the next move, making networks more simple in design and flexible in operation. Packet optical integration, integrating ROADM, OTN and packet layer (with carrier grade redundancy and availability features) promises to be a good approach, especially when the telecom networks are visualized as an interconnection of large number of DCs(now known as CO(Central Office)/LE (Local Exchange)).

What do Cloud and SDN mean for next generation optical networking in the African region?

Cloud, SDN, Virtualization or together, what I call as “softwarization” is applicable to any network and therefore NG optical networking is also not an exception. However, I guess African region have some other priorities to be achieved before getting in there. I hope, they’ll take their time to study, understand and learn the new concepts and will follow them with longer time plans.

To hear from Anuradha and many other industry experts, join us in Cape Town for Next Generation Optical Networking Africa.

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