International Workshop on 
“Recent trends and future outlook in optical communication systems and networks: from data-centers to broadband access networks to core transport networks"

Location: Athens Information Technology Center (AIT), Athens, Greece
Date: Friday, May 9th, 2014

Introduction to the workshop topics

The data traffic carried by core transport networks grows at a steady but remarkable pace of 30-40% year-over-year, and in addition the access network capacity demands double almost every two years. The aforementioned facts are primarily due to the dramatic paradigm shift that was observed in Internet usage over the recent years with the emergence of multimedia traffic, and especially video, occupying the largest share of the available capacity. More recently, the deployed 3G networks and the emerging 4G mobile networks generate huge additional traffic demands that push the capabilities of the backhauling networks required to carry the wireless access traffic from the multitude of base stations and eventually of the core transport networks. These trends are expected to grow further in the future and intensify due to the wider usage of new services (i.e. cloud services, HDTV, 3D-TV, etc.) and technologies (i.e. FTTH, 5G, etc.). 
All introduced innovations so far in the network architecture and associated technologies will not be able to support such new network capacity targets and the associated services requirements. The network infrastructure characteristics, technologies and architecture need and will fundamentally change. Towards that direction, the role of optical transmission and networking technologies is fundamental in order to support what is required in the future. No transmission medium has the capabilities of optical fibers (i.e. in terms of low propagation loss and ultra-high bandwidth) and no technology other than photonics can operate at ultra-high bit-rates and ultra-low power consumption. It is absolutely needed that advancements in photonic devices and optical communications systems/networks will continue to satisfy the traffic requirements by delivering the content over the network infrastructure in a cost and energy efficient manner. 
That’s why the European Union (EU) invests heavily on photonics and optical networking technologies. There are several EU projects that work on relevant topics, like: silicon photonics, optics for high performance computing, transmission systems for 100Gbps and beyond, flexible/elastic optical networking, cloud and data center networking, software defined networking and software-defined photonics, next generation access networks, convergence of optical and wireless technologies for high speed backhaul towards enhanced 4G/5G mobile networks, etc. It is also remarkable to note that Greek institutions (i.e. Universities, Research Centers and Companies) have a very significant presence in those projects (as partners but more importantly also as leaders).

Workshop objectives

AIT, together with some of its key partners, will organize on Friday May 9th at its premises in Athens, Greece, an international workshop (open to all interested participants) that is targeting to disseminate the main results/findings from relevant EU projects towards students & researchers from universities/research centers, engineers/managers from the telecom industry, entrepreneurs & investors of the high-tech industry and also government officials. On one hand the workshop will try to educate students and researchers on the upcoming new technologies. On the other hand this international workshop has also another very important target and that is why it is also addressed to representatives from the telecom industry, entrepreneurs & investors of the high-tech industry and government officials: investments in broadband infrastructure (i.e. FTTH and 4G), as well as in high-tech areas (e.g. photonics, telecommunications) are seen as a potential catalyst that may assist Greece to grow its economy, reduce the unemployment rate and eventually overcome the financial crisis that hit the country and affected its citizens. It is therefore very important to disseminate the research output that EU and Greek institutions generate on the relevant topics towards the diffusion of this knowledge to the Greek innovation system and economy. 
The workshop offers an opportunity for showing the latest research results obtained by major EU research consortia/projects. Potentially, this will allow better collaboration between Industry and Academia, as well as the creation of start-up companies. Another added value is to motivate highly skilled students and researchers from Greece to work in the field of optical communications/networking and photonics engineering in general.

Workshop organizers

The workshop chairman is Dr. Ioannis Tomkos of AIT. The workshop is under the auspices of EU projects INSPACE, FOX-C, ASTRON (where AIT is the technical project leader) & COCONUT and NAVOLCHI (where AIT is a partner). The workshop program and speakers will be announced in due time at the AIT web-site. All invited talks will focus on the presentation of the benefits of the technologies and solutions developed as a result of the research activities and the potential they have for future exploitation and commercialization. A panel will be organized after the invited talks in order to actively discuss among all speakers and participants about the possible opportunities.
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