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In fiber-optic communications, wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) is a technology which multiplexes a number of optical carrier signals onto a single optical fiber by using different wavelengths (i.e., colors) of laser light. This technique enables bidirectional communications over one strand of fiber, as well as multiplication of capacity.
The term WDM is commonly applied to an optical carrier, which is typically described by its wavelength, whereas frequency-division multiplexing typically applies to a radio carrier which is more often described by frequency. This is purely conventional because wavelength and frequency communicate the same information. Specifically, frequency (in Hertz, which is cycles per second) multiplied by wavelength (the physical length of one cycle) equals the velocity of the carrier wave. In vacuum, this is the velocity of light, usually denoted by the lower case letter, c. In glass fiber, it is substantially slower, usually about 0.7 times c. The data rate, which ideally might be at the carrier frequency, in practical systems is always a fraction of the carrier frequency.
A WDM system uses a multiplexer at the transmitter to join the several signals together and a demultiplexer at the receiver to split them apart. With the right type of fiber, it is possible to have a device that does both simultaneously and can function as an optical add-drop multiplexer. The optical filtering devices used have conventionally been etalons (stable solid-state single-frequency Fabry–Pérot interferometers in the form of thin-film-coated optical glass). As there are three different WDM types, whereof one is called "WDM", the notation "xWDM" is normally used when discussing the technology as such.
The concept was first published in 1978, and by 1980 WDM systems were being realized in the laboratory. The first WDM systems combined only two signals. Modern systems can handle 160 signals and can thus expand a basic 100 Gbit/s system over a single fiber pair to over 16 Tbit/s. A system of 320 channels is also present (12.5 GHz channel spacing, see below.)
WDM systems are popular with telecommunications companies because they allow them to expand the capacity of the network without laying more fiber. By using WDM and optical amplifiers, they can accommodate several generations of technology development in their optical infrastructure without having to overhaul the backbone network. Capacity of a given link can be expanded simply by upgrading the multiplexers and demultiplexers at each end.
This is often done by use of optical-to-electrical-to-optical (O/E/O) translation at the very edge of the transport network, thus permitting interoperation with existing equipment with optical interfaces.
Most WDM systems operate on single-mode fiber optical cables which have a core diameter of 9 µm. Certain forms of WDM can also be used in multi-mode fiber cables (also known as premises cables) which have core diameters of 50 or 62.5 µm.
Early WDM systems were expensive and complicated to run. However, recent standardization and better understanding of the dynamics of WDM systems have made WDM less expensive to deploy.
Optical receivers, in contrast to laser sources, tend to be wideband devices. Therefore, the demultiplexer must provide the wavelength selectivity of the receiver in the WDM system.
WDM systems are divided into three different wavelength patterns: normal (WDM), coarse (CWDM) and dense (DWDM). Normal WDM (sometimes called BWDM) uses the two normal wavelengths 1310 and 1550 on one fiber. Coarse WDM provides up to 16 channels across multiple transmission windows of silica fibers. Dense WDM (DWDM) uses the C-Band (1530 nm-1565 nm) transmission window but with denser channel spacing. Channel plans vary, but a typical DWDM system would use 40 channels at 100 GHz spacing or 80 channels with 50 GHz spacing. Some technologies are capable of 12.5 GHz spacing (sometimes called ultra dense WDM). New amplification options (Raman amplification) enable the extension of the usable wavelengths to the L-band (1565 nm-1625 nm), more or less doubling these numbers.
Coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM), in contrast to DWDM, uses increased channel spacing to allow less-sophisticated and thus cheaper transceiver designs. To provide 16 channels on a single fiber, CWDM uses the entire frequency band spanning the second and third transmission windows (1310/1550 nm respectively) including the critical frequencies where OH scattering may occur. OH-free silica fibers are recommended if the wavelengths between second and third transmission windows is to be used[ citation needed ]. Avoiding this region, the channels 47, 49, 51, 53, 55, 57, 59, 61 remain and these are the most commonly used. With OS2 fibers the water peak problem is overcome, and all possible 18 channels can be used.
WDM, CWDM and DWDM are based on the same concept of using multiple wavelengths of light on a single fiber but differ in the spacing of the wavelengths, number of channels, and the ability to amplify the multiplexed signals in the optical space. EDFA provide an efficient wideband amplification for the C-band, Raman amplification adds a mechanism for amplification in the L-band. For CWDM, wideband optical amplification is not available, limiting the optical spans to several tens of kilometres.
Originally, the term coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM) was fairly generic and described a number of different channel configurations. In general, the choice of channel spacings and frequency in these configurations precluded the use of erbium doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs). Prior to the relatively recent ITU standardization of the term, one common definition for CWDM was two or more signals multiplexed onto a single fiber, with one signal in the 1550 nm band and the other in the 1310 nm band.
In 2002, the ITU standardized a channel spacing grid for CWDM (ITU-T G.694.2) using the wavelengths from 1270 nm through 1610 nm with a channel spacing of 20 nm. ITU G.694.2 was revised in 2003 to shift the channel centers by 1 nm so, strictly speaking, the center wavelengths are 1271 to 1611 nm. Many CWDM wavelengths below 1470 nm are considered unusable on older G.652 specification fibers, due to the increased attenuation in the 1270–1470 nm bands. Newer fibers which conform to the G.652.C and G.652.D standards, such as Corning SMF-28e and Samsung Widepass, nearly eliminate the "water peak" attenuation peak at 1383nm and allow for full operation of all 18 ITU CWDM channels in metropolitan networks.
The main characteristic of the recent ITU CWDM standard is that the signals are not spaced appropriately for amplification by EDFAs. This limits the total CWDM optical span to somewhere near 60 km for a 2.5 Gbit/s signal, which is suitable for use in metropolitan applications. The relaxed optical frequency stabilization requirements allow the associated costs of CWDM to approach those of non-WDM optical components.
CWDM is being used in cable television networks, where different wavelengths are used for the downstream and upstream signals. In these systems, the wavelengths used are often widely separated. For example, the downstream signal might be at 1310 nm while the upstream signal is at 1550 nm.[ citation needed ]
Some GBIC and small form factor pluggable (SFP) transceivers utilize standardized CWDM wavelengths. GBIC and SFP CWDM optics allow a legacy switch system to be "converted" to enable wavelength multiplexed transport over a fiber by selecting compatible transceiver wavelengths for use with an inexpensive passive optical multiplexing device.[ citation needed ]
The 10GBASE-LX4 10 Gbit/s physical layer standard is an example of a CWDM system in which four wavelengths near 1310 nm, each carrying a 3.125 gigabit-per-second (Gbit/s) data stream, are used to carry 10 Gbit/s of aggregate data.
Passive CWDM is an implementation of CWDM that uses no electrical power. It separates the wavelengths using passive optical components such as bandpass filters and prisms. Many manufacturers are promoting passive CWDM to deploy fiber to the home.[ citation needed ]
Dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) refers originally to optical signals multiplexed within the 1550 nm band so as to leverage the capabilities (and cost) of erbium doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs), which are effective for wavelengths between approximately 1525–1565 nm (C band), or 1570–1610 nm (L band). EDFAs were originally developed to replace SONET/SDH optical-electrical-optical (OEO) regenerators, which they have made practically obsolete. EDFAs can amplify any optical signal in their operating range, regardless of the modulated bit rate. In terms of multi-wavelength signals, so long as the EDFA has enough pump energy available to it, it can amplify as many optical signals as can be multiplexed into its amplification band (though signal densities are limited by choice of modulation format). EDFAs therefore allow a single-channel optical link to be upgraded in bit rate by replacing only equipment at the ends of the link, while retaining the existing EDFA or series of EDFAs through a long haul route. Furthermore, single-wavelength links using EDFAs can similarly be upgraded to WDM links at reasonable cost. The EDFA's cost is thus leveraged across as many channels as can be multiplexed into the 1550 nm band.
At this stage, a basic DWDM system contains several main components:
The introduction of the ITU-T G.694.1 GHz (about 0.8 nm) spacing in optical frequency, with a reference frequency fixed at 193.10 THz (1,552.52 nm). The main grid is placed inside the optical fiber amplifier bandwidth, but can be extended to wider bandwidths. The first commercial deployment of DWDM was made by Ciena Corporation on the Sprint network in June 1996. Today's DWDM systems use 50 GHz or even 25 GHz channel spacing for up to 160 channel operation.frequency grid in 2002 has made it easier to integrate WDM with older but more standard SONET/SDH systems. WDM wavelengths are positioned in a grid having exactly 100
DWDM systems have to maintain more stable wavelength or frequency than those needed for CWDM because of the closer spacing of the wavelengths. Precision temperature control of laser transmitter is required in DWDM systems to prevent "drift" off a very narrow frequency window of the order of a few GHz. In addition, since DWDM provides greater maximum capacity it tends to be used at a higher level in the communications hierarchy than CWDM, for example on the Internet backbone and is therefore associated with higher modulation rates, thus creating a smaller market for DWDM devices with very high performance. These factors of smaller volume and higher performance result in DWDM systems typically being more expensive than CWDM.
Recent innovations in DWDM transport systems include pluggable and software-tunable transceiver modules capable of operating on 40 or 80 channels. This dramatically reduces the need for discrete spare pluggable modules, when a handful of pluggable devices can handle the full range of wavelengths.
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At this stage, some details concerning wavelength-converting transponders should be discussed, as this will clarify the role played by current DWDM technology as an additional optical transport layer. It will also serve to outline the evolution of such systems over the last 10 or so years.
As stated above, wavelength-converting transponders served originally to translate the transmit wavelength of a client-layer signal into one of the DWDM system's internal wavelengths in the 1,550 nm band (note that even external wavelengths in the 1,550 nm will most likely need to be translated, as they will almost certainly not have the required frequency stability tolerances nor will it have the optical power necessary for the system's EDFA).
In the mid-1990s, however, wavelength converting transponders rapidly took on the additional function of signal regeneration. Signal regeneration in transponders quickly evolved through 1R to 2R to 3R and into overhead-monitoring multi-bitrate 3R regenerators. These differences are outlined below:
As mentioned above, intermediate optical amplification sites in DWDM systems may allow for the dropping and adding of certain wavelength channels. In most systems deployed as of August 2006 this is done infrequently, because adding or dropping wavelengths requires manually inserting or replacing wavelength-selective cards. This is costly, and in some systems requires that all active traffic be removed from the DWDM system, because inserting or removing the wavelength-specific cards interrupts the multi-wavelength optical signal.
With a ROADM, network operators can remotely reconfigure the multiplexer by sending soft commands. The architecture of the ROADM is such that dropping or adding wavelengths does not interrupt the "pass-through" channels. Numerous technological approaches are utilized for various commercial ROADMs, the tradeoff being between cost, optical power, and flexibility.
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When the network topology is a mesh, where nodes are interconnected by fibers to form an arbitrary graph, an additional fiber interconnection device is needed to route the signals from an input port to the desired output port. These devices are called optical crossconnectors (OXCs). Various categories of OXCs include electronic ("opaque"), optical ("transparent"), and wavelength selective devices.
Cisco's Enhanced WDM system combines 1 Gb Coarse Wave Division Multiplexing (CWDM) connections using SFPs and GBICs with 10 Gb Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) connections using XENPAK, X2 or XFP DWDM modules. These DWDM connections can either be passive or boosted to allow a longer range for the connection. In addition to this, CFP modules deliver 100 Gbit/s Ethernet suitable for high speed Internet backbone connections.
Shortwave WDM uses vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) transceivers with four wavelengths in the 846 to 953 nm range over single OM5 fiber, or 2-fiber connectivity for OM3/OM4 fiber.
See also transponders (optical communications) for different functional views on the meaning of optical transponders.
There are several simulation tools that can be used to design WDM systems.
Synchronous optical networking (SONET) and synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH) are standardized protocols that transfer multiple digital bit streams synchronously over optical fiber using lasers or highly coherent light from light-emitting diodes (LEDs). At low transmission rates data can also be transferred via an electrical interface. The method was developed to replace the plesiochronous digital hierarchy (PDH) system for transporting large amounts of telephone calls and data traffic over the same fiber without the problems of synchronization.
An optical amplifier is a device that amplifies an optical signal directly, without the need to first convert it to an electrical signal. An optical amplifier may be thought of as a laser without an optical cavity, or one in which feedback from the cavity is suppressed. Optical amplifiers are important in optical communication and laser physics. They are used as optical repeaters in the long distance fiberoptic cables which carry much of the world's telecommunication links.
In telecommunication, a transponder is a device that, upon receiving a signal, emits a different signal in response. The term is a portmanteau of transmitter and responder. It is variously abbreviated as XPDR, XPNDR, TPDR or TP.
The small form-factor pluggable (SFP) is a compact, hot-pluggable network interface module used for both telecommunication and data communications applications. The form factor and electrical interface are specified by a multi-source agreement (MSA) under the auspices of the Small Form Factor Committee. It is a popular industry format jointly developed and supported by many network component vendors. The advantage of using SFPs instead of fixed interfaces is that the interface port can be equipped with any suitable type of transceiver as needed.
A passive optical network (PON) is a fiber-optic telecommunications technology for delivering broadband network access to end-customers. Its architecture implements a point-to-multipoint topology, in which a single optical fiber serves multiple endpoints by using unpowered (passive) fiber optic splitters to divide the fiber bandwidth among multiple access points. Passive optical networks are often referred to as the "last mile" between an Internet service provider (ISP) and its customers.
An add-drop multiplexer (ADM) is an important element of an optical fiber network. A multiplexer combines, or multiplexes, several lower-bandwidth streams of data into a single beam of light. An add-drop multiplexer also has the capability to add one or more lower-bandwidth signals to an existing high-bandwidth data stream, and at the same time can extract or drop other low-bandwidth signals, removing them from the stream and redirecting them to some other network path. This is used as a local "on-ramp" and "off-ramp" to the high-speed network.
A frequency grid is a table of all the central frequencies of channels allowed in a communications system.
Here, is a list of initialisms and acronyms used in laser physics, applications and technology.
Optical networking is a means of communication that uses signals encoded in light to transmit information in various types of telecommunications networks. These include limited range local-area networks (LAN) or wide-area networks (WAN), which cross metropolitan and regional areas as well as long-distance national, international and transoceanic networks. It is a form of optical communication that relies on optical amplifiers, lasers or LEDs and wave division multiplexing (WDM) to transmit large quantities of data, generally across fiber-optic cables. Because it is capable of achieving extremely high bandwidth, it is an enabling technology for the Internet and telecommunication networks that transmit the vast majority of all human and machine-to-machine information.
An optical add-drop multiplexer (OADM) is a device used in wavelength-division multiplexing systems for multiplexing and routing different channels of light into or out of a single mode fiber (SMF). This is a type of optical node, which is generally used for the formation and the construction of optical telecommunications networks. "Add" and "drop" here refer to the capability of the device to add one or more new wavelength channels to an existing multi-wavelength WDM signal, and/or to drop (remove) one or more channels, passing those signals to another network path. An OADM may be considered to be a specific type of optical cross-connect.
ITU-T Recommendation G.709"Interfaces for the Optical Transport Network (OTN)" describes a means of communicating data over an optical network. It is a standardized method for transparent transport of services over optical wavelengths in DWDM systems. It is also known as Optical Transport Hierarchy (OTH) standard. The first edition of this protocol was approved in 2001.
ITU-T defines an Optical Transport Network (OTN) as a set of Optical Network Elements (ONE) connected by optical fiber links, able to provide functionality of transport, multiplexing, switching, management, supervision and survivability of optical channels carrying client signals. An ONE may Re-time, Re-Amplify, Re-shape (3R) but it does not have to be 3R – it can be purely photonic.
Fiber-optic communication is a method of transmitting information from one place to another by sending pulses of infrared light through an optical fiber. The light forms an electromagnetic carrier wave that is modulated to carry information. Fiber is preferred over electrical cabling when high bandwidth, long distance, or immunity to electromagnetic interference are required. This type of communication can transmit voice, video, and telemetry through local area networks, computer networks, or across long distances.
An optical interleaver is a 3-port passive fiber-optic device that is used to combine two sets of dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) channels into a composite signal stream in an interleaving way. For example, optical interleaver takes two multiplexed signals with 100 GHz spacing and interleaves them, creating a denser DWDM signal with channels spaced 50 GHz apart. The process can be repeated, creating even denser composite signals with 25 GHz or 12.5 GHz spacing.
The STM-4 is a SDH ITU-T fiber optic network transmission standard. It has a bit rate of 622.080 Mbit/s. This is called STM-4. The STM-4 specification is designed to carry 7,680 8-bit "voice" frames every 125 micro-seconds for a total payload bit rate of 491.520 Mbit/s. The other levels defined by the SDH standard are STM-1, STM-16, STM-64 and STM-256. Beyond this we have wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) commonly used in submarine cabling.
IP over DWDM (IPoDWDM) is a technology used in telecommunications networks to integrate IP Routers and Switches in the OTN . A true IPoDWDM solution is implemented only when the IP Routers and Switches support ITU-T G.709. In this way IP devices can monitor the optical path and implement the transport functionality as FEC specified by ITU-T G.709/Y.1331 or Super FEC functionality defined in ITU-T G.975.1.
An optical mesh network is a type of optical telecommunications network employing wired fiber-optic communication or wireless free-space optical communication in a mesh network architecture.
The XFP is a standard for transceivers for high-speed computer network and telecommunication links that use optical fiber. It was defined by an industry group in 2002, along with its interface to other electrical components, which is called XFI.
A super-channel is an evolution in Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) in which multiple, coherent optical carriers are combined to create a unified channel of a higher data rate, and which is brought into service in a single operational cycle.
An optical module is a typically hot-pluggable optical transceiver used in high-bandwidth data communications applications. Optical modules typically have an electrical interface on the side that connects to the inside of the system and an optical interface on the side that connects to the outside world through a fiber optic cable. The form factor and electrical interface are often specified by an interested group using a multi-source agreement (MSA). Optical modules can either plug into a front panel socket or an on-board socket. Sometimes the optical module is replaced by an electrical interface module that implements either an active or passive electrical connection to the outside world. A large industry supports the manufacturing and use of optical modules.