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For Optical Fiber, More Bandwidth Looms

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2017
Engineering improvements to fiber, as well as enhancements to detectors and sources, aim to improve capacity for long-haul networks and data centers.

HANK HOGAN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, hank.hogan@photonics.com

The world’s data travels largely by fiber, with more being moved than ever before. San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant Cisco Systems forecasts that data traffic will grow 22 percent a year from 2015 to 2020. Little wonder, then, that more fiber is going in the ground, under the sea and into data centers. This year the optical fiber installed in communication networks globally will total 421 million kilometers, said Richard Mack, principal analyst with market research firm CRU International. “This total is 10 percent more than the amount installed in 2015, and it is almost twice the amount installed five years ago, in 2011,” he said. In addition to more fiber being installed, industry and researchers are also working to boost capacity by engineering the fiber as well as improving sources and detectors. Some are looking at what could be fundamental material changes. An example of these trends at work can be seen at Corning Inc. Based in Corning, N.Y., the company makes fiber for a wide variety of applications, said Joel Orban, product line operations manager for the single-mode and multimode optical fiber business. Single-mode fiber is often used in telecom and long-haul applications, with transmission wavelengths around 1550 nm and distances of thousands of kilometers. Multimode fiber, on the other hand, is used in shorter run applications such as data centers and elsewhere. Source wavelengths are 850 and 1310 nm.

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GLOSSARY
optical fiber
A thin filament of drawn or extruded glass or plastic having a central core and a cladding of lower index material to promote total internal reflection (TIR). It may be used singly to transmit pulsed optical signals (communications fiber) or in bundles to transmit light or images.  
fiber opticsoptical fiberHank HoganCiscoCRU InternationalCorningglass fiberFinisarROADMmultiplexerRam PhotonicsInfineraFeatures

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