Optical Networks

Optical Networks

Introduction to Optical Networks

Optical networking uses signals encoded in light to transmit information among different nodes of a network. Although it isn’t necessarily traveling at the speed of light, recent data show that it is only 31 percent slower.

Along with the speed of transmission it offers, it is also capable of achieving large bandwidths that copper wires cannot. Many only recognize optic fiber in an optical network, but that isn’t all. Optical networking system include many different components, which are LED or laser light source, a multiplexer or demultiplexer(commonly known as a prism), an optical switch, optical splitter, amplifier and a circulator. Like the difference between the telegraph and the telephone, fiber optic technology is the backbone of networks.

What is a Fiber Optic Cable

A fiber optic cable is a long flexible pipe with fine hair like glass fibers that carry light transmitted by a laser or LED. Data is being transmitted through these tiny fibers because light will reflect back into the glass after bouncing off the sides of the pipe, employing a principle called internal reflection.

Father of Fiber Optics Communnications

Charles Kao

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Charles Kao, who is also known as the “Father of Fiber Optics Communication”, who discovered that by purifying the glass and placing them into tiny thin fibers, large amount of data could be carried long distance with minimal data loss. Along with fiber optics, he invented the charge-coupled device used to convert optical information into the electric signal with Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith. These two inventions gave possibility to the broadband communication which electronic publishing and informatics depend on. In the year 2009, he was awarded half of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his “groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication.”

Benefits of Fiber Optic Cables

To begin with a key benefit is that there is negligible data loss. Long range transmissions now will not lose as much data, and will travel much faster also. Compared to coppers cables, the distance of glass is 400 times longer.Another factor in data loss is the amount of interference the cable encounters. Fiber optic cables are less susceptible to noise and electromagnetic interferences. And since the core is made of glass, which is an insulator, no electric current can pass through. The size of the cable is also much lighter and thinner than copper cables, much makes it efficient to lay out. Although the price of the optic cable is much more expensive than the copper one, it requires less maintenance and hardware, so in the long run, optic cables come out on top.

Optical Network Vendors

IHS Markit, a global information company, categorized vendors into groups of “Leader”, “Established” and “Challenger”. Ciena, Cisco and Infinera are leaders among vendors that are reckoned by IHS. (IHS 2015, June 29) Among the top vendors are ADVA Optical Networking, Alcatel Lucent, Ciena, Cisco, Coriant, ECI, Fujitsu, Huawei, Infinera, and ZTE. Although the specific rank was not released, IHS research director for carrier transport networking stated that “We use hard data and hard customer feedback and use a model to calculate the results. There is no subjectivity on my part and the model is used across all of our product areas, we have some criteria that measure market presence, which is where companies are today (market share, financials, customer perception on certain issues, etc.) and market momentum, which measures future direction (market share shifts, customer opinions, involvement in key technological areas). Companies that are above average for both categories are leaders. Those stronger with momentum are challengers, and those stronger with presence are established.” (IHS 2015, June 29) From an optical network hardware vendor scorecard from March of 2014, done by Infonetics Research, it shows that Huawei leads in market share while Ciena leads in market share momentum. Cisco is the most financially stable company and also leads in packet optical intensity. (Infinera, 2014 March 26) Also the CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rat) for the global optical network hardware market is to grow at 12.68 percent in the period of 2017 to 2021. (Global, 2017 March 22)

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