Interview with Andrew Bond-Webster, Vice-President, Asia Pacific, Infinera

Face to Face , February 04, 2013

With increasing demand for high bandwidth services, a crunch in network capacity is the biggest challenge faced by telecom operators. In this context, companies like Infinera help service providers optimise their network capacity via various offerings, such as the instant bandwidth on the DTN-X platform product.

In an interview with, Andrew Bond-Webster, vice-president, Asia Pacific, Infinera, discusses the challenges before the company in India and its key focus areas in the country. Excerpts…

What is Infinera’s focus area in India?

Infinera’s primary focus area in India is to work with service providers to transform their optical networks to support and enable new high speed services like mobile access, business ethernet services and cloud- based data services. At Infinera, our mission is to deliver economically compelling optical networks.

Our client base includes government agencies, cable TV operators, long-distance network operators, internet content providers, wholesale bandwidth resellers, mobile network operators and Tier 1 network operators.

Also, Infinera’s sales and our research and development (R&D) center is in Bangalore which is the company’s second largest R&D center. The centre hosts research across functions like network management, generalised multi-protocol label switching, networking planning system, application-specific integrated circuit and hardware.  The R&D centre employs over 250 employees.

Initially, our R&D centre focused on high end engineering and innovation for our global customers. Overall, given the tremendous market potential that we see in India, the company’s current strategy is to focus on new business development, expansion opportunities, and support services for existing and potential customers in India.

What are the challenges before the company?

In many respects, Indian operators face similar challenges to global players. Network costs are being increasingly scrutinised due to macro-economic headwinds. Extracting the maximum efficiencies out of deployed network assets remains an ongoing goal for operations. Customers are demanding transport platforms that are simple to deploy and lower total operational costs over the life of the network.

At the same time, Indian operators face unique challenges like network reliability and bandwidth constraints. Fiber cuts are common and are difficult to troubleshoot and fix. Infinera’s platforms help pinpoint such issues rapidly with intelligence that is embedded in each system.  Advanced traffic protection technologies reroute traffic without missing a beat. Lastly, Infinera’s unique photonic integrated circuits (PIC) further boost overall reliability by integrating hundreds of discrete optical functions to reduce power requirements and reduce space requirements.  Infinera’s PIC technology is field-proven for over 700 million hours now without a single failure since inception.

What are the company’s business and expansion plans in 2013?

Infinera is investing substantially in the Asia-Pacific region, specifically India. We ramped up our business development activities across the region in 2011, while the R&D center in India commenced in 2002, a year after Infinera was established.

The Indian telecom market is highly competitive and dynamic, which encourages growth. We see immense business opportunity in the country and accordingly, we are expanding our business development-centric activities across India to support the increasing traction for our solutions amongst the customer base here.

What technology trends do you foresee in the Indian telecom market?

The optical networking industry is undergoing a reboot due to two key factors. One is the migration from 10 GB per second of capacity to 100 GB per second and beyond on optical transport systems and the other is the emergence of new architectures that converge switching and transmission functions in integrated solutions.

Infinera pioneered the concept of super channels that help scale optical capacity to 500 GB per second and eventually to 1 Terabit per second. Super-channels are provisioned in a single stroke avoiding complexity in operations usually associated with higher bandwidths. Super channels are further enhanced with coherent detection technology that’s software-configurable and improves reach for long-haul applications. We see a rapid adoption of these technologies as networks continue to be burdened by surging bandwidth demands across widespread geographies.

Architecturally, the concept of integration has always had appeal in the transport industry both at the component and at the system levels. However implementing it is difficult as compromises are eventually made in engineering.

Photonic integration in the optical world uses PIC to collapse hundreds of optical functions into a pair of chips. This is similar to the transformation that occurred in the electronics world when several transistors were collapsed into a silicon chip. Today Infinera is shipping the third generation of PIC with 500 GB per second capacity. The industry is following this trend by acquiring research houses or developing in-house. At the system level, Infinera was the first to ship platforms that integrated optical transmission with digital OTN switching. This integration is without any compromises in performance, reducing overall wavelengths in transport networks. This reduction has a direct, positive impact on network efficiency lowering total costs including power, space and operations.




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