Scott Jordan - Advisor to Fiber Smart

Please list your name, company, title, and brief overview of your role at your current company.

Scott Jordan, PI, Head of Photonics

I am responsible for strategic and technical direction to serve the photonics field for the world’s leading manufacturer of ultra-precision positioning, alignment and micro-robotic equipment. I work closely with industrial and academic players pursuing practical, volume implementation of photonic technologies, including silicon photonics, LIDAR and imaging technologies and future technologies in the quantum and photonic-logic fields.

 

How did you come to hear about/become involved in Fiber Smart Networks?

I’ve known David Wang for many years and have discussed several projects with him.

 

What do your responsibilities include as Advisor to Fiber Smart Networks?

I have some visibility into manufacturing challenges and solutions that might be useful for Fiber Smart Networks to plug into as it evolves.


What are you most excited about for the company?

FiberSmart has shown a knack for finding emerging needs and filling them with clever innovation.  I look forward to more of that!


What are the challenges you will help the company overcome?

Volume manufacturing, quick time to market, new application approaches.


What do you hope for the future of the company?

Continue serving the market as well as it has— developing solutions rapidly so they’re ready when demand comes.


What do you like to do outside of work?

What is this “outside of work” of which you speak?

Seriously, it’s been very, very busy over the past few years, and the global viral lockdown has increased the importance of rapidly scaling photonic-based solutions to connectivity. There is even more on the horizon, with photonic logic, quantum computing and quantum communications all proceeding decades ahead of what was thought possible just a few years ago.  This has left little time for me to enjoy other pursuits, but what I do enjoy is hiking around our beautiful area, spending time with my family and dogs, and so on.  

 

What challenges do you see our industry facing in tackling the changes in our working environments caused by COVID-19?

Wow, this is a big topic.  I presented on it to the European Photonics Industry Consortium a couple of months ago.  It goes far beyond the working environments.  It is driving major geopolitical shifts ranging from decoupling from China, to the rapid deployment of contract manufacturing in other countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, India and Brazil, to a suddenly-urgent revisiting of rare-earth mining (including here in California), to massive redirection of investment and research into COVID-19-related investigations, and on and on.  What’s more predictable: connectivity demand is skyrocketing and will continue to do so, with major ISPs reporting a year’s worth of growth per month early in the pandemic.  The big challenge in our industry is to keep up with all the changes!

 

How well do you think the industry has responded to these challenges?

Superbly.  I’m really impressed.

 

What further changes do you think the industry needs to make to be better prepared in the future in case of a second wave or new epidemics?

Clearly, the “put all our eggs in one basket” aspect of relying on China for materials and manufacturing needs scrutiny.  On the one hand, today--unlike twenty years ago--there are alternatives (some even lower-cost at this point).  But China is also a huge market for photonics connectivity, and government mandates present unusual requirements for provisioning that FiberSmart can help solve. Manufacturing in China is hugely helpful for participating in its market.  (I have some specific relationships in China that might work very well for FiberSmart in paving the way there in a manner that could protect its IP.)

 

How do you see some of the challenges and opportunities in the networking industry? 

Again, the biggest challenge will be to keep up with all the exponentiating demand, new technologies, changing topographies (more work-from-home, more distributed data centers, etc).  Plus, the field moves so fast that conventional marketing approaches enshrined by the likes of Procter and Gamble are entirely inappropriate.  By the time you’ve assembled a focus group, the opportunity may be lost.  Speed, agility, flexibility and a willful dismantling of any fortress mentality are musts.


What do you see the Internet in the next 5-10 years?

More.  More and more and more.  More bandwidth.  More distributed computing.  More end-points.  More survivability.  More bandwidth, obviously.  But that’s just the beginning. Consider the advent of 5G.  It’s much-hyped and for good reason: it’s a firehose of bandwidth.  But tower range is much smaller than with previous technologies; that’s just physics.  So: more towers must be deployed, meaning more terrestrial connectivity and all the provisioning that will require.


What’s your view on the network physical layer, its current status and future evolution?

The shift from denser and denser metro connectivity to broader distribution of bandwidth and more edge sensing and computing will drive the evolution of the physical layer.    

 

How do you see automation in general and in networks?

Essential.  The days of Ernestine patching and configuring connections are long past, and connectivity is too mission-critical (and topographically changing too rapidly) for anything but automated solutions.

 

What are the challenges for network operators to change?


Here my market knowledge kind of runs out of steam.  I have been more focused on device-level challenges; the network operators are several steps downstream from where I’ve spent most of my time.  But I’d imagine they are seeing the same trends: a very sudden shift away from nucleated bandwidth demand to more broadly distributed demand; a shift away from dense (and costly) high-tech siting to more virtualized (and cheaper) siting, an acceleration of the shift to mobile technologies, and a redefinition of personal computing.

Q&A

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