Optical networking comeback in the works?

The technology took a beating when the telcommunications bubble burst, but new interest in optical research could reignite the craze.

Since the telecommunications bubble burst, "optical" has become a dirty word in the networking world. But that could be changing, as researchers from Internet2 and the National LambdaRail start developing optical technology to exponentially increase capacity on the Internet.

LambdaRail, a consortium of universities, research institutions and private industry, has been quietly buying long stretches of fiber from carriers across the country at bargain basement prices. The organization is building the first nationwide fiber backbone owned by the research community.

Cisco Systems has donated all the optical gear used in the LambdaRail network. And Internet2 is using fiber from the LambdaRail network to build a hybrid Internet Protocol-optical network.

Considering that carriers still haven't made brought new services to market that run over Internet2, such as high-definition video conferencing and IPv6, it could take years before new IP-optical technologies make it onto the commercial Internet.

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