Monday, February 25, 2008

Verizon Tests Automated Fiber-Optic Cross Connections (AFOX)

Verizon has completed a trial of automated fiber-optic cross connects, or AFOX, which is a technology for remotely performing 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.

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.

Verizon said its AFOX trial 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.

"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."

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