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The transition to the latest coherent WDM technology is underway and its effects are rippling through the optical market. It’s time to take a step back and sort out where things are, what worked, who benefitted, and what happens next.

In this Active Insight report, Cignal AI outlines several generations of coherent WDM deployments and examines the catalysts and keys to market success for the third generation of coherent.


  • Third generation coherent has arrived and will account for almost all global coherent market growth starting in 2019.
  • Maximum speed alone is not a sufficient benchmark for success in the coherent market. Baud rate and system features better differentiate coherent generations as multi-haul technology becomes a reality.
  • Historically, vertically integrated companies that design and engineer the coherent link end-to-end have been first to market and capture most of the worldwide market share.
  • 4th gen coherent is only two years away and will address the massive metro-edge market. The introduction of 400ZR and lower speed derivatives will squeeze out 10Gb/s WDM deployments.
  • The transition to 5th gen coherent places greater importance on system-level engineering as the Shannon limit is reached and opportunities for improvement in the coherent DSP diminish.

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