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The transformative effect of Fiber Optics on Bandwidth May 7, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Telecommunications.
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The stated figures you may frequently encounter for bandwidth measurements, expressed in bits per second, can be hard to interpret and grasp using real-world examples that can be easily envisioned. As a for instance, fiber optic transmission facilities and fiber cables can today very easily enable data transmission speeds of up to 10Gps. 10Gps transmission speeds mean 10 billion bits per second can be sent down the fiber – and this bandwidth can accommodate, as an example, sending all 32 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica in a mere tenth of a second.

But there is even more at work here; The real impact of fiber is not just on the ever advancing Bps rates that can be facilitated, but also in the capabilities fiber affords to us in terms of reducing the number of conversions from analog to digital that at present are required to traverse the legacy telecommunications infrastructure as the data moves from point to point across the globe.

A tectonic shift is occurring; The transition from the electronic era to the optical, or photonic era. An entirely new generation of switches and devices that at their heart are optical.

Consider the hypothetical example of a fax transmission from a location in the United States to a location in India. Beginning as marks on a piece of paper (the most analog of communications mediums), the fax machine in the US digitizes the paper’s marks (the first conversion). The modem in the fax machine then converts these digital bits into analog sounds that can be sent over the telephone. The Class 5 switch at the local exchange in the US converts these sounds back to digital (the third conversion). The Class 4 switch in the US then converts these digital bits back into analog for the trip overseas on the telephone network to India. The receiving Class 4 switch in India then converts these analog sounds back into digital bits. The Class 5 switch in India, close to the destination fax machine at the local exchange, then converts back into analog for the transmission to the receiving fax machine. The modem in the receiving fax machine then reconverts these analog sounds back into digital bits, which are assembled, checked for accuracy and printed on a blank sheet of paper, rendering a final analog page of marks exactly in the form of the marks on the original page that went into the US fax machine. That is a total of eight conversions! Avoiding this high number of conversions is possible only in an optical network; And when we have more optical equipment in the chain of network nodes, then we will be capable of utilizing fiber to an even greater degree to achieve previously unimagined transmission speeds.

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