The day when fiber will deliver new, yet now only foreseeable, broadband ser- vices to the end user is getting nearer and nearer as we make our way towards the prophetic year 2000. Step by step, as we move from first generation lasers and fibers to the by now common erbium-doped fiber amplifiers, looking forward to such things as wavelength multiplexing and solitons, photonic switching and optical storage, the community of researchers in optical communications has stepped into the era of photonic networks. It is not just a question of terminology. Optical communication means tech- nology to the same extent that photonic network means services. If it is true that information is just as marketable a product as oil or coke, the providing of an extensive global information infrastructure may end up having an even greater impact than the setting up of a world-wide railroad network did at the beginning of the industrial era. Just like wagons, bandwidth will be responsible for carrying and delivering goods to customers. The challenge for all of us in this field is for it to function in every section of the overall network, transport, access and customer area, in the best possible way: the fastest, most economical and most flexible. New services provided by a new network that exploits the potential and peculiarities of photonics surely requires a rethinking of solutions, new ideas, new architec- tures, new design, especially where electronics is still dominant, as in transport and access networks.
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