VIAVI Solutions this week released several test and measurement offerings designed specifically for network elements used in today's high-density fiber-optic communications environments.
Insatiable demand for high-speed broadband via fixed-access networks, ongoing work toward full-blown 5G and the fiber-based backhaul required to make that future a reality, plus endless streams of data from Internet of Things in connected homes, cars, factories and other environments ensure a never-ending need for cable. These trends also mean no tolerance for unreliability. That pressures fiber manufacturers and service providers to test and measure the performance of each network element, recognizing a network is only as strong as the weakest link.
"Latest generation networks require high bandwidth, low latency links which have little or no margin for power loss or signal degradation. Deploying these high-performance links cost effectively is only possible with tools designed to protect the quality of the physical plant as it is being constructed and verified," Tom Fawcett, vice president and general manager of Lab and Production at VIAVI, told Broadband World News. "Fiber continues to be drawn further into the access network. As wireless networks expand capacity and deploy higher bandwidth technology, fiber is being deployed to exponentially more endpoints."
VIAVI released MAP-300, the next iteration of its MAP-200 photonic metrology and test automation platform, which features a multi-user architecture and customizable user interface. This allows prioritization of key data and remote automation over direct IP socket connections which reduces testing costs and increases capital use, according to the vendor. MAP-300 is backward-compatible with MAP-200 modules to so WSS, 400GE and coherent line system manufacturers can use their existing investment.
"Service providers are looking for tools that provide a return on investment by enabling their teams to close more tickets with higher quality, in order to save test time and [ensure] the network is turned up the first time around," said Craig Black, senior director and general manager of Fiber Optic Test at VIAVI, in an interview. "The whole need for testing is to make sure [a deployment] is done correctly the first time eliminating human error. Customers are looking to max ROI; [automation] speeds up test time and improves network performance from Day One."
VIAVI also released an mOLM-C1 module for the MAP-200 benchtop system, which simultaneously can measure four wavelengths without specification degradation, and share scripts and data between units, according to the vendor.
In addition, VIAVI unveiled two optical network tester (ONT) products: the ONT-800 mainframe and the 800G Flex module (pictured on BBWN home page). Built on the ONT-600, they're designed to deliver the bandwidth, power and cooling requirements for testing at 800G per lambda and more. The ONT-800 enables multi-service testing for research and development, system verification testing and manufacturing, and retains the earlier model's automation and applications. The ONT-800 family also offers full-bandwidth 400G ODUflex in OTUC4, via FlexO or OTLC4.
Finally, cable manufacturers, large service providers and fiber installers can use the FVAm series of benchtop microscopes to inspect and analyze MPO and other multi-fiber connectors. FVAm automates the entire inspection and test process, reducing multi-fiber connector testing to less than 20 seconds, according to VIAVI.
Removing manual processes is critical, and service providers increasingly have automated testing over the past few years, said Black.
"Automation is a strong trend in communications network testing," he said. "Automating test functions speeds up deployments and removes human error from verification of the link performance or recording the status of the job."
Another trend: More testing as early as possible. "Testing is often seen as optional or as a luxury. We have seen that rigorous control of operations combined with testing to verify performance results in a drastic improvement of first-time-successful deployment and lower total cost of deployment," said Black. "Doing it right the first time results in lower operational costs and high customer retention."
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.