Applications Overview

Our coherent DSP ASICs and silicon PICs are at the heart of our products. These component technologies, internally developed by Acacia, deliver cost effective, high bandwidth, high performance solutions to optical networking applications such as Submarine, Long-haul and Metro, including Data Center Interconnect.

Long-haul networks, requiring sophisticated and high-capacity transmission capabilities, were the earliest adopters of high-speed coherent optical technologies. Acacia’s technology has helped to bring the benefits of low power and pluggability to metro network applications.

Additionally, cloud infrastructure operators and content service providers are deploying the latest high bandwidth technologies to connect their data centers at reaches that range from tens to thousands of kilometers.

See below for a look at the application areas that our products support.

Explore Our Applications
Metro Carrier
Long Haul
Wired Access
Long Haul

Long haul terrestrial networks link major population centers within continents, spanning distances from 1,500 km to more than 2,500 km. Today’s cloud networks are constantly mirroring data between servers in geographically diverse locations. Cost effective upgrades and expansion to 100 Gbps and above is necessary to meet this growing need for data. Long haul terrestrial and subsea networks must be upgraded to provide higher bit rate dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology to carry data from different sources simultaneously.

Long haul networks put a high value on performance. The ability to communicate over longer distances reduces the number of regeneration stages, where signals are converted from the optical domain to electrical and back. This can have significant cost savings to the overall network. In addition to prioritizing reach, it is important to maximize the amount of traffic on each fiber, known as the spectral efficiency. Coherent technology has very high spectral efficiency and enables network operators to maximize their utilization of this constrained resource.

Metro Carrier

Metro carrier optical networks interconnect a wide range of traffic from central offices and data centers within a metropolitan area. These complex mesh networks typically cover ranges from 80km to 1,500km and may include up to 24 remote optical add-drop mux (ROADM) nodes that introduce additional optical impairments. Metro networks are optimized for small physical footprints and low power, but must deliver ever-more bandwidth to meet customer needs.

While coherent technology was first adopted in long haul networks, the introduction of Acacia’s low power, pluggable coherent CFP module in 2014 made coherent much more appealing in metro applications. Old fiber and wavelength selective switch (WSS) based ROADM nodes in metro networks introduce impairments, such as polarization mode dispersion (PMD), polarization dependent loss (PDL), and reduced channel passbands. These impairments are often more severe in metro than in long haul networks. For this reason, reach alone is not a good indicator of performance requirements in these applications.


The largest cloud infrastructure operators and internet content providers are moving from leasing bandwidth from service providers networks to leasing or buying dark fibers and building private networks. These networks are increasingly dependent on higher speed optical solutions. Traffic between data centers is increasing at a faster rate than traffic between users and the data centers.

Many enterprises are moving from operating their own datacenter to cloud based services that offer lower cost and greater flexibility to scale as their needs increase. This transition is leading to larger data centers where resources are consolidated. The interconnect requirements for these mega-data centers are driving demand for solutions that are optimized for these point to point links. Instead of many smaller data centers with moderate connectivity requirements, these mega-data centers require massive bandwidth over fewer paths. This architecture reduces the need for granularity and places the highest value on cost per bit.

Traffic patterns in the cloud networks are different from traditional data centers. Where the traditional network has a lot of north-south traffic between the servers and users, cloud networks have far more east-west traffic between servers. This traffic is used for synchronization and load balancing to maximize the utilization of available resources.


Optical interconnections span thousands of kilometers under the world’s oceans. The distance and cost associated with deploying and maintaining these links make the submarine market highly sensitive to performance and reliability. There are limited fibers available, so maximizing fiber utilization is a top priority. With the ability to compensate for severe optical impairments in CMOS, coherent technology has been groundbreaking in these applications.

Cloud operators, content providers, and many companies have locations around the globe that need networks that look like they are co-located. Traffic on submarine networks is growing, new fibers are being deployed, and capacity on existing fibers is being upgraded.

Managing submarine networks used to be extremely complex with only a handful of companies having the expertise. Deploying and maintaining the network infrastructure is still a highly specialized industry, but using coherent optical interconnects, these links are easier to turn up and provision. This has led to a transition where open submarine line systems can accept wavelengths from external systems. Cloud operators have begun to lease dark fiber service in their submarine applications.

Wireless Access

User expectations from mobile networks are escalating and wireless carriers are preparing for 5G networking that will offer as much as 5 times the bandwidth of today’s 4G networks. Video streaming to mobile devices is becoming more common and carriers are racing to find ways to make it more cost effective. While 5G standards are still being developed, wireless carriers and equipment vendors are actively trying to determine how to meet the challenge of a “video everywhere” world. New architectures will be necessary to aggregate all of that distributed bandwidth.

Wireless backhaul, where the wireless network is connected to the core, has long been an exciting optical networking market. Today, these applications are using 10 Gbps and lower optical interconnects. As the amount of data on the wireless network increases, the capacity on the backhaul networks will scale, requiring higher capacity fiber optic solutions.

In order to maximize the data available to the mobile user, the wireless networks are changing. While there are multiple proposed implementations, there are a few common elements.

  • Higher density of antennae in the network to increase overall capacity.

  • Centralized control of multiple antennae will allow for more intelligent balancing of the network resources.

  • Fiber optics all the way to the antennae tower, known as wireless fronthaul will relieve a bottleneck as capacity per tower increases.

Wired Access

Access networks are the on-ramps to the internet, where connections from many individual residential or enterprise customers are aggregated.

Applications such as 4K video, virtual reality gaming, and business connectivity are driving the need for higher capacities on the links that connect from the neighborhood to the central office. In addition, bandwidth demands are growing from commercial enterprises that are moving their data services to the cloud.

This market will need high capacity solutions that can be cost effectively deployed in volume. This equipment is deployed in uncontrolled environments, so future applications could face a more challenging environment than the typical central office or datacenter.