LightTrends Newsletter

Optical Technology Directions for Next Generation Fronthaul

August 2022

LightCounting publishes a Research Note on 50G optics for fronthaul

LightCounting recently organized and hosted a webinar on the topic of 50G optical transceivers for mobile fronthaul networks (MFH50G), and today published a Research Note summarizing the presentations and discussions. The webinar was co-organized by the International Photonics & Electronics Committee (IPEC) and was attended live by more than 250 people. The speakers are shown in the webinar flyer below.


During the webinar, service providers, equipment suppliers, transceiver and component vendors shared their views and solutions for fronthaul networks and optics. This provided a multi-faceted view of the need for and the challenges of producing optics above the current 25Gbps standard for various fronthaul deployment scenarios.

Dr. Li Junjie, Chief Expert of Optical Transport Network, China Telecom and President of IPEC opened the webinar with an introduction of IPEC and the MFH50G project. IPEC is a non-profit international standards organization, focusing on the optical modules and opto-electronic devices research and standard promotion in the industry. It was founded in October 2020 at CIOE with 13 original members and has since grown to 38 members today, including industry heavyweights like China Telecom, Fiberhome, Fujitsu, Foxconn, H3C, Huawei, and Intel, as well as leading optical transceiver makers Accelink, AOI, CIG, HGG, Hisense, Source, and others.

IPEC currently has five working groups and 10 projects, in total, and three of the five working groups are related to the MFH50G, as shown below – network requirement WG, PMD WG and Form Factor WG.


Subsequent speakers addressed the technical challenges such as minimizing power and cost while moving to longer reaches (up to 15 km). Different approaches for achieving target performance were also discussed, such as the use of PAM4 modulation, fronthaul-optimized DSPs, silicon photonics integration, and newly developed lasers and receivers.

Among operators, there appears to be a general consensus that demand exists today for 50G grey and WDM optics, as well as 100G BiDi transceivers for fronthaul applications. Among product developers, the use of PAM4 and the SFP56 form factor appear to be generally agreed upon as the best way forward.

The complete text of this Optical Technology Directions for Next Generation Fronthaul research note includes a synopsis of each presentation, notes from the Q&A session, and a full page of conclusions. The research note is available to LightCounting clients.

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