22 May Old Technology Fuels New Fiber Optic Innovation
Many people believe that we are in a new technology revolution. However, some of the technologies underlying today’s advancements are not new at all. In fact, many are simply innovative applications and refinements of technology that has existed for decades.
One of the most recent innovative applications of fiber optic cables was not developed in a board room in Silicon Valley, but instead by drilling engineers out in the field. In an effort to do things better, faster, and cheaper, these drilling engineers came up with the idea of embedding sensors with fiber optic connections in their drill heads so that technicians on the surface level could map a formation as they drill. What a simple, yet creative innovation that makes drilling all the more effective!
Sandia National Laboratories also had an interesting experience with existing technology and fiber optic innovation. Since its first encounter with fiber optics, Sandia envisioned being able to use multiple wavelengths in a very high bandwidth single strand. However, when they began installing single-mode fiber and adding underground fiber capabilities, they realized that the technology was not yet mature enough to take advantage of the multiple wavelengths and speeds inherent in fiber optics.
All Sandia could do was continue to install the fiber optic cable foundation as the technology continued to develop. Then, when commercial optical networks began deploying voice, data, and video to both homes and office buildings, they knew they had to move quickly. Now, Sandia is a pioneer in large-scale passive fiber optic networks and has built the largest fiber optic local area network in the world. Their network includes 265 fiber lit buildings and 13,000 computer network ports delivering high-speed communications.
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