Reliability issues are of profound importance in attempting to introduce photonics in a broader context in communications, e.g. for cross-connects, ATM switches etc. These questions are becoming of immediate importance with the imminent introduction of more photonic functionality in the networks. In the area of optical cross-connect switching, much work has been done, based on variety of architectures and component technologies. However, only few of the previous studies have addressed the requirements of reliability.

In this paper reliability performances of a number of equal capacity optical cross-connects (OXCs) are compared. Influence of capacity expansion on system reliability is discussed.

OXCs are characterized by different architectures and component technologies. Calculations are based on available reliability data for commercial components as well as expected failure rates for new components developed for application in the OXCs. The reliability of the electronic control systems is not considered here.

It is shown that in most published cases, the reliability performance is very far from that requested, in the proposed configurations. The solution of this problem is discussed.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

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