Innovative Optical and Wireless Network Global Forum marches towards first release next year

After Sony, Intel and NTT announced the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) Global Forum last year, it has added 20 new member companies since April. While the forum was announced in October of last year it wasn't formally incorporated until April.

New members to IOWN Global Forum (GF) include heavyweights such as Dell, Oracle, Red Hat and Microsoft. The forum's goal is to develop next-generation silicon photonics, edge computing and connected computing through frameworks, specifications and reference designs.

"The forum now consists of silicon and component providers, software platform providers, network connectivity and service providers, device manufacturers, TEMs, systems integrators and others," said IOWN’s president and chairman, Katsuhiko Kawazoe, in an email to FierceTelecom. "With the addition of the new companies, the IOWN GF now has representation from all portions of the networked computing and service provision ecosystem.

"This will allow the forum participants to take into consideration the delivery of specifications that meet the future requirements for networking, computing and service provisioning."

The photonics research and development forum includes future photonic devices, photonic network equipment and an end-to-end architecture, all of which will be powered by advances in photonics/ electronics convergence technologies. The goals are to reduce power consumption and enable instant access and response times by shortening latency and broadening transmission capacity.

IOWN also hosted its first online member meeting in September, which drew more than 300 participants. That meeting included working group sessions as well as discussions on key technologies and possible use cases.

As a result of the September meeting, the working groups set up four task force activities including: “Open All Photonics Network (APN),” “Cyber-Physical Systems Use Cases and Service Platform,” “AI-Integrated Interactive Entertainment and Communication Use Cases and Service Platform,” and “Data-Centric Communication and Computing (DCC) Infrastructure.” IOWN GF is now working on reference architectures across the four areas of focus.

Kawazoe said "Release 1" would look at prospective use cases for early adoption as well as the key performance indicators (KPIs) that go with them.  The first release is slated for the end of next year.

"Then, the forum will publish a series of technical specifications for Release 1 in 2023, and for Release 2 in 2024," Kawazoe said. "Much will depend on what the technology and use case working groups specify, but the aim is to have near, mid and long-term deliverables made available.

"While we communicate 2030 as the timing for when an all photonics network (APN) will be available, we see this as more of a rolling thunder with incremental improvements introduced along the way. We will build towards tomorrow, in other words."

Kawazoe said launching the new forum during the coronavirus pandemic led to some challenges, but it also enabled "24 by 7" development cycles as the members worked with each other virtually. It also strengthened the forum's resolve that the current state of technology wasn't doing enough to aid society in general.

"Covid has actually proven some of the thoughts we had behind establishing the forum," Kawazoe said. "The world moved very quickly to a place where we need to be able to work, play and learn remotely. This has put substantial pressure on our networks and shown how existing infrastructure can be improved to provide less lag and more bandwidth for the data and latency requirements of the Covid world.

"If you look at the use cases requiring the most bandwidth and lowest latency in the Covid world, cloud gaming and video conferencing are at the top of the list. We need to provide reliability, lower latency and the ability to manage packets across the network in real time. These needs will only increase over time, showing that the path we’ve set on is the right path."