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Light Beam “Twins” Redefine Fiber Speeds

Light Beam “Twins” Redefine Fiber Speeds

According to researchers at Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs, the technology behind noise-cancelling headphones may redefine fiber optics. A limiting factor behind fiber optic speed is noise. The farther a signal travels, the more power is needed. As power increases, so does noise. This limits how far beams can travel before they must be rerouted.

The study, which was published in the May edition of Nature Photonics, discovered that using “twins,” or dual beams of light in a fiber cable that mirror one another, allows light to travel four times farther than a single beam. The researchers used two separate beams of light to transmit down a fiber optic cable and then recombined them on the receiving end, which cancels out any noise that may have accumulated.

By reducing signal noise, information repetition is also reduced in a given beam. This allows for faster data transfer speeds. The Bell Labs experiment transmitted data at 400 Gigabits per second — four times faster than the currently best available commercially speeds — down 7,953 miles of fiber. This distance is greater than the longest transoceanic fiber cable. In addition to faster speeds, the researchers argue that this technology may eliminate the need to reroute transoceanic signals.

“At the receiver, if you superimpose the two waves, then all the distortions will magically cancel each other out, so you obtain the original signal back,” said Xiang Liu of Bell Laboratories, the study’s lead author, in an interview with BBC News. “This concept, looking back, is quite easy to understand, but surprisingly, nobody did this before.”

This research could redefine how long-haul optical fiber transmissions work by reducing latency and improving bandwidth. This saves both time and money and allows the Internet to move forward into a faster, more comprehensive connection.

As the broadband capabilities advance, so does the demand for fiber optic networks. At GeoTel Communications, LLC we provide fiber optic maps and other telecom data products that give valuable insight into the competitive fiber optic landscape of a particular city or metro area. GeoTel’s fiber maps include data that is digitized and layered onto the highest quality street data available, enabling the user to locate lit, dark or long haul fiber quickly and efficiently. If you are interested in obtaining fiber maps, fiber optic maps, or other fiber GIS products for your city or metro area, contact GeoTel Communications, LLC at (800) 277-2172.

Valerie Stephen