Jane M. Simmons has been involved in the research and development of optical networks for more than 20 years.  She is the founder of Monarch Network Architects, which provides optical network architectural services and design tools.  

She previously served as the Chief Network Architect of Corvis Corp.  While at Corvis, she performed the network design and the link engineering for the first commercially deployed all-optical backbone network.  Through pioneering algorithmic and architectural optimizations, she played a significant role in the adoption of all-optical networking in telecommunications networks.  Prior to Corvis, Dr. Simmons worked at Bell Labs/AT&T Labs Research, where she conducted research on backbone, regional, and broadband access networks. She received a B.S., Summa Cum Laude, from Princeton University, and S.M. and Ph.D. degrees from MIT, all in Electrical Engineering.  She is a Fellow of the IEEE, the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE/OSA Journal of Optical Communications and Networking, and is the author of the textbook Optical Network Design and Planning, now in its second edition.

Why is your research field an important area to study, and what benefit can it bring to society?

My research field is optical networking.  Delivering high-capacity networks in a scalable, cost effective manner is necessary to sustain the global economy.

What are today’s hottest trends/topics in your area of research and what challenges still remain?

  • Cognitive Networking – the use of various artificial intelligence techniques to control the network without human intervention.  It still remains to be investigated the true benefits that can be realized.
  • Flexible Networking – the move away from a ‘one-size fits all’ approach.  As new connections are added to a network, the supporting technology is tuned to the particular requirements of each connection, resulting in more efficient usage of the network resources.  Finding the right amount of flexibility is still an open question – at some point the added complexity does not justify the benefits.
  • Softwarization of the network – the move away from application-specific technology to more general, programmable technology.  Allows service providers and enterprises to have greater control of their network.  The scalability of this approach and its impact on network latency still need to be investigated.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

  • Don’t be the second person to break a four-minute mile.  No one will care.
  • Find a mentor.
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Jane M. Simmons

Monarch Network Architects


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