Tunable Optical Transceivers: What are they and when should they be used?

Share this article

Tunable optical transceivers for DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexer) systems, such as XFP and SFP+, have been widely available within the telecommunications industry for a number of years. In this article, we detail exactly what tunable optical transceivers are, how they work, and when they should be used.

What is a tunable optical transceiver?

Tunable optical transceivers are similar in operation and appearance to fixed transceivers, however, they have the added capability of allowing you to set the channel (or colour) of the emitting laser. This reduces the need to have multiple devices that each operates at fixed wavelengths installed within a network. Instead, you have one transceiver that can be tuned according to the requirements of the operator.

Tunable transceivers are only available in DWDM form, because of the format of the dense wavelength grid. Typical tunable optics are designed for the C-Band 50GHz. They support approximately 88 channels which are set with a 0.4nm interval. They usually start from channel 16 and go up to 61, but this is dependent on the manufacturer of the router or switch and which channels it supports.

There are two main types of tunable transceivers:

XFP Tunable

Tunable XFP transceivers are designed with an integrated full C-Band tunable transmitter and high-performance receiver. This means that wavelengths can be set as default in the 50GHz DWDM grid. With single-mode fiber, XFP tunable transceivers can operate at distances up to 80km.

Depending on the manufacturer, the names of these products can vary even though they have the same operational features.

These optics can be tuned in different ways. Most devices make it possible to tune over the CLI (Command Line Interface), but not every switch or router is capable of this.

SFP+ Tunable

Tunable SFP+ transceivers are full duplex, serial optical devices. The transmit and receive functions are contained within a single module which provides a high-speed serial link at 9.95 to 11.3Gbps signaling rates.

Again, these products can operate at distances of up to 80km with single-mode fiber.

When should tunable optical transceivers be used?

Tunable transceivers are mostly kept as spare parts.

If, for example, you are running a large-scale DWDM network with various nodes located in lots of places, and you are using up to 80 different wavelengths (with 50GHz spacing), with fixed transceivers you would need a few spares for each wavelength. This would result in huge amounts of stock and complex stock management processes. With tunable optics, the number of devices is significantly reduced, lowering storage and management costs.

They are often more expensive than fixed transceivers but savings are made in large networks where tunable transceivers are used to replace multiple fixed wavelength products.

What are the benefits of tunable transceivers?

As technology has progressed, tunable transceivers have improved drastically. They are now very popular within DWDM transmission systems because of their capabilities and ease of use.

The key benefits are:

  • Wide tuning range
  • Suitable for 100G systems because of reduced line-width
  • The convenience of wavelength adjustment depending on transmitting needs
  • Reprogramming takes seconds
  • Saves money in the long term


Optical transceivers are able to operate at various wavelengths and adjust their wavelength according to each users’ needs. They are very popular in DWDM systems due to cost-saving factors and flexibility of use.

At Carritech, we stock and support a full range of optical transceiver products. To view our stock, learn more about our products or enquire about purchasing visit our optical transceiver page.

For more information on any of the information in the article, contact us at contact@carritech.com or call +44 0203 005 1170.

Yuliya Danilenko

Account Manager

Yuliya Danilenko has over four years of experience as an International Account Manager, specializing in Level 3 Remote Technical Support.

She assists large-scale multinational organizations, fixed and mobile operators, and leading equipment manufacturers worldwide in supporting legacy telecom equipment, generating additional revenue, and reducing operational expenses (OPEX).

In her leisure time, she loves travelling and exploring different cultures.

Javier Amado

Account Manager

As an international Account Manager for Carritech Telecommunications, Javier assists large fixed and mobile operators in supporting their legacy telecom equipment, particularly in Italy and LATAM. He ensures that the company delivers the best value to customers across all services specialized in legacy telecom equipment.

In his free time, Javier enjoys sports and is an avid fan of soccer and motorsports, including Formula 1 and MotoGP. He also considers himself a lifelong learner, seizing every opportunity for growth.

Aligned with the values of Carritech, Javier is committed to helping more operators worldwide achieve their environmental goals and continue to leave a positive footprint.

Christian Mekdad

Account Manager

Christian brings over a decade of IT industry experience and 5 years in the telecom industry to his role as an Account Manager at Carritech, with a focus on optical transceiver solutions and GPON technology.

As a trilingual person speaking French, Spanish and English, he manages operations in French-speaking countries and communicates with international traders from around the world. Christian will step outside his comfort zone to find the most effective solutions to your challenges.

In his free time, Christian enjoys playing rugby and trekking in the mountains of Madrid.

Luis Alvarez

Account Manager

Luis Alvarez brings more than 5 years of experience in the telecom industry. With a focus on optical transceiver solutions, he adeptly meets the diverse needs of Carritech’s international clientele, particularly in Spain and Latin America.

Known for his consultative approach, Luis ensures clients receive customised, effective network solutions.

When not enhancing telecom infrastructures, Luis enjoys working out, exploring scenic routes with his dog and participating in local events.

Shane Driver

Senior Account Manager

Shane Driver brings over 12 years of telecom industry experience to his role as Senior Account Manager at Carritech.

With a focus on Network Hardware Support Services, Shane meets the diverse needs of Carritech’s international clients, particularly in the UK, Ireland, and mainland Europe. Known for his customer-centric approach, Shane ensures his clients receive support solutions that align with their unique requirements.

Outside of telecommunications, Shane enjoys swimming, playing golf, and spending time with his young family.

Yura Saskevych

Director of Global Accounts

Yura Saskevych has over a decade of vast experience in sales of telecommunication hardware and network services support. He is the Director of Global Accounts at Carritech and holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering.

Having been focused extensively on transport (Optical and MW), Access and Core Networks, Yura has successfully helped customers worldwide extend the life of existing telecommunication networks, reduce expenses and meet their environmental goals.

With a strong background in the telecom industry, Yura will engage with clients with a customised approach, provide required solutions and ensure that their telecom systems are running smoothly.

Adept at working simultaneously on multiple accounts with the highest accuracy and professional salesmanship Yura collaborates closely with engineers, technicians, the procurement department and project managers to plan, adapt, and optimize customer network solutions.

Yura is passionate about delivering innovative and cost-effective solutions that meet performance, security, and quality standards.

When he’s not enhancing telecom infrastructures, he enjoys doing sports, gardening and exploring scenic routes.

Miguel Asín Barcos

Sales Director

Miguel Asín Barcos serves as the Sales Director at Carritech, where he focuses on driving revenue growth and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Based in Madrid, Miguel draws on his more than 20 years of experience in the telecom industry to lead and support his sales team.

Outside of telecommunications, he enjoys football, watching movies, and spending time with his family.

Request a Quote

Arrange Callback

Request Support

Request Support


A complete, sustainable support solution for your telecommunication network...

Network Development

We can help with supply and procurement of replacement parts for your telecommunications network.

Operational Maintenance

We can help with supply and procurement of replacement parts for your telecommunications network.

Investment Realisation

We can help with supply and procurement of replacement parts for your telecommunications network.

Request Tunable Optical Transceivers: What are they and when should they be used? parts...