Affectionately and appropriately referred to as Generation Z, consumers aged approximately13 to 22 are making increasing demands on networks and their operators. The obvious reason is the rise of social-media platforms, escalating growth in cloud computing, and the mass proliferation of sensors for the Internet of Things (IoT) applications, all of which are driving the need for more and faster connections. Reportedly, Gen Z is placing the greatest demand on networks and servers with its always-on, constant-sharing lifestyle that involves uploading and downloading billions of videos daily.
According to research from Cisco IBSG, the per-person number of connected devices is expected to nearly double in five years, worldwide. Research firm ReportsnReports finds that as networks add more bandwidth, the number of optical fibre connections is growing significantly. To keep up with increased demands for fibre optic switching technology, CommScope and its consortium of industrial, research, and academic partners launched SwIFT (optical Switch combining Integrated photonics and Fluidics Technologies), a project of the EU’s 7th Framework Programme for Information and Communications Technology ICT (FP7). The aim is to develop a low-cost solution for automatic and remote fibre management. The EU granted 1.85 million euros to fund this project.
Recent research commissioned by the European Union (EU) highlights the importance of micro fluidics and silicon photonics for remote fibre management. Unique fibre optic switching technologies could potentially automate manual processes and reduce energy costs across telecommunications. Jan Watté, SwIFT project coordinator and group leader of strategic engineering and research & development in Europe, CommScope, states “Combining micro fluidics and silicon photonics could give us information in a blink of an eye. Dramatic energy savings, reduced floor occupation in the central office and redesigned closures could create a paradigm shift for network operators. The SWIFT concept findings lay the groundwork for further development of industry specifications – we see a huge opportunity for the telecommunications industry, especially for network and data center operators.”
Connector rich patch panels implemented in fibre networks require operators to manually configure connector plugs in the central office and field. By combining silicon photonics and microfluidics, a similar technology to what has been successfully implemented in e-readers, network operators could potentially use software to patch and re-patch cables. A video is available that outlines the goals of the SwIFT project.
The research and studies hit the nail on the head when they observe that “the top career aspiration of a Generation Z kid is to be a YouTube star”, providing further evidence that demand for bandwidth is growing rapidly. Hopefully, fibre optics will provide the solution for faster, reliable, and lower cost networks. After all, we cannot expect Gen Z to wait more than a microsecond to watch a video of their BFF wearing a fruit helmet. Their great grandparents had to save up for a couple months just to see Carmen Miranda wear one in a black-and-white movie. Heaven forbid they should suffer so. For more details, visit CommScope.