Because of the advancement of 5G, mobile devices, and broadband, the development of optical network technologies has received increased research attention. However, studies have mostly focused on the technical or market aspects rather than employing a macroscopic perspective to reveal the technology distribution of optical networks and the development trends in their key fields. Given that technologies disclosed by standard essential patents (SEPs) are the key technologies that determine the standards in relevant industries, we used SEPs optical networks as the basis of analyses and constructed a technology network. Therefore, the contribution of this study lies in bridging the research gap between two studies, using the perspective of SEPs to observe the key technologies in leading industry standard-setting. In addition to the aspects of technologies and markets addressed in existing studies, this study primarily discusses technology distribution and trends in optical networks. The results reveal that transmission of digital information, wireless communication networks and multiple communication are the key technical fields in developing optical networks, with wireless communication devices and digital information transmission being the main focus in recent years. Considering the gradual standardization of future optical network technologies and the fierce competition between manufacturers in SEP applications, relevant industries and universities should cooperate in key technical fields for research and development as well as in talent cultivation to facilitate the development of key technologies and industrial standards in optical networks. The current results may serve as a reference for both industry and academia with regard to research and development resource allocation.
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