The “Wet Net” World of Underwater Fiber Optic Cables

You panic when even a few drops of water fall on your laptop. Everyone knows that water and electronics don’t “mix.” That’s why it seems so ironic that most of the Internet’s “hard” infrastructure lies underwater on the ocean floor.

 

Virtually all global data travels through millions of miles of submarine fiber optic cables beneath the ocean’s surface. More than 350 submarine cable lines stretch from the U.S. West Coast to the East Coast, with many more being deployed around the world.

 

Installing submarine fiber optic cables deep on the ocean floor is time consuming and expensive. While special ships deploy the cable, ocean divers repair and maintain the network. And even with thick, protective jackets, there are many ways to damage a cable. Some destructive forces include ship anchors, commercial fishing equipment, earthquakes, hurricanes and even sinister interference. (more…)

5G: What’s All the Hoopla About?

There’s been lots of excitement and even some “hype” around the idea of 5G. But what is it really? Does it mean just faster internet? Will it really be that much better than 4G? Many people are asking these questions as the FCC begins to auction the first licenses for the airwaves that will carry 5G service.

 

What Is 5G, Really?

5G will be up to 100 times faster than today’s cellular connections – and even faster than many home broadband services. But it’s not just about speed. Networks will have greater capacity and respond faster than earlier wireless services. More people and devices will work at the same time on the same network without slowing it to a crawl. And it will do all of this with lower latency. Latency is the time delay between a device contacting the network and receiving a response.

 

This improved latency will help to bring about some of the most amazing tech trends on the horizon. And while 5G may not change your life right away, it will certainly bring some totally new technologies to life. For now, here are a few of the most exciting apps and technologies that 5G will enable.

 

Promising 5G Applications

Self-driving vehicles – Self-driving cars will be a common sight with the next generation of wireless service.  And 5G will make vehicle-to-vehicle communication happen – where cars can almost instantly share information between them on their location, speed, acceleration, direction and steering. Many experts believe that this feature will become the greatest lifesaving advance in the auto industry in more than a decade. Using this, cars will know before their drivers when another car moves into your blind spot or when a dump truck that’s six vehicles ahead suddenly stops.

 

Telesurgery – Remote surgery isn’t new. However, 5G could make a huge difference in providing medical care to millions in distant locations, along with training doctors remotely in surgery and other specialties.

 

Virtual Reality – For truly realistic virtual reality (VR), a wireless network must carry tons of data. And while it must be fast, the network must also handle this data deluge to create a life-like VR experience. It will take 5G to make this happen.

 

Drones: 5G technology will let drones talk to one another, helping prevent overhead accidents while in flight.

 

5G wireless networks can make many of the technologies, applications and experiences that we’ve been waiting for a reality.

Can a Quantum Network “Hacker Proof” Fiber Optic Cables?

In 2013, Edward Snowden, a U.S. National Security Agency contractor, leaked documents showing that intelligence agencies were spying on the data of private citizens. One disturbing fact was that the spies tapped into optical fiber cables to access the huge amount of data moving through these cables.

 

Snowden’s disclosures pushed researchers to use quantum science to make this type of hacking impossible. Finally, there are reports of progress.

 

THE QUANTUM KEY DISTRIBUTION APPROACH

A startup called Quantum Xchange will access 500 miles of optical cable along the Eastern U.S. coast. Quantum will use this cable to create the country’s first quantum key distribution (QKD) network.

 

Quantum Xchange’s “QKD approach” would send an encoded message in bits while transmitting the decoding keys as quantum bits, or qubits. Usually in the form of photons, the qubits travel easily along fiber cables. However, any attempt to spy on a qubit would instantly destroy its fragile quantum state, erase any data and leave the mark of an intrusion.

 

One possible issue is that “trusted nodes” must be used to send quantum keys over long distances. These nodes act as repeaters to boost signals in a typical data cable. Quantum Xchange plans to have 13 trusted nodes along its entire network. At these node points, keys are first turned into bits. Then, they are changed back to a quantum state to be sent on. In other words, a hacker could theoretically steal these bits as they are momentarily vulnerable.

 

AN ALTERNATE METHOD: QUANTUM TELEPORTATION

Along with this news, the University of Chicago, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory will jointly develop a test bed to use quantum teleportation to create secure data transmission.

 

Quantum teleportation would use entanglement to eliminate the risk of hacking. Entanglement creates a pair of qubits (usually photons) in a single quantum state. A change in one photon instantly affects the linked photon, even if they are far apart. Therefore, in theory, it should be impossible to hack data transmission using entanglement. This is so because tampering with one of the qubits would destroy both quantum states.

 

However, the entanglement method is still confined to research labs. And there are huge challenges to making this approach work in the real world. According to Dr. David Awschalom of the University of Chicago, creating and maintaining entanglement would be extremely difficult over a long-distance fiber optic network.

 

Dr. Awschalom is leading the project involving the university and the national labs. The goal is to have the test bed use a “plug-and-play” approach that will let the researchers experiment and evaluate different techniques for entangling and transmitting qubits.

 

The U.S. Department of Energy will provide several million dollars to fund the test bed. This test bed will use a 30-mile stretch of installed optical cable between the labs. Members of the Chicago Quantum Exchange will operate the test bed and project. This Exchange consists of 70 scientists and engineers from the three organizations.

 

Could “Twisted” Fiber Optics Create a 100 Times Faster Internet?

Researchers at Australia’s RMIT University recently discovered a new fiber optic breakthrough that could lead to 100 times faster internet speeds. This new development detects light that has been twisted into a spiral.

 

According to research in Nature Communications, developers could upgrade existing fiber optic networks and boost efficiency using this discovery.

 

HOW IT WORKS

Fiber optic cables use pulses of light to transmit information. However, users can only store that data based on the color of the light and whether the light wave is horizontal or vertical.

 

The RMIT researchers twisted light into a spiral and created a third dimension for light to carry information – the level of orbital angular momentum, or spin. Dr. Min Gu of RMIT compared it to the double helix spiral of DNA. According to Dr. Gu,  a greater amount of angular momentum allows an optical fiber to carry a larger amount of information.

 

Researchers have used “twisted light” approaches and orbital angular momentum before. They encoded a greater amount of data in various degrees of twist using these “twisted” methods. In fact, researchers at Boston University and the University of Southern California developed an optical fiber that could twist light. However, the teams used detectors as large as “the size of a dining table.” The RMIT researchers created a reasonably-sized detector that reads the information it holds. The new detector is the width of a human hair.

 

WHAT IT CAN DO

Providers could upgrade networks around the globe with this new fiber optic technology. These companies include the NBN Co. NBN is deploying Australia’s national broadband network. The company expects to complete this network by 2020.

 

NBN is “prepared for future demand.” However, they have also stated that fiber optic advances such as this one by RMIT need further testing and acceptance before being deployed. A spokesperson commented, “Laboratories continually test new communications technologies for many years before they are commercialized. Equipment manufacturers and network operators must accept these new methods on a widespread scale before they are ready to be deployed in the field.”

Melting Arctic Ice Could Mean Faster Internet for Some

Have you ever wondered how an e-mail reaches your inbox from a co-worker in Europe? Or how a Facebook message gets to you from a cousin in Africa?

 

The answer lies beneath the ocean. More than 745,000 miles of submarine cables featuring optical fiber make up most of the actual physical internet. These cables wind between and around continents, carrying almost all of our global internet communication.

 

Recently, the huge amount of data sent between connected smart devices has begun clogging this network of submarine cables, just as interstate highways become jammed with traffic. One way to deal with this massive data growth is to increase the bandwidth capacity of the physical internet. Another way is to create more direct transmission paths between continents.

 

 

Taking It Direct

A new project in Finland hopes to use this second method. The plan is to install a new fiber optic cable route across the Arctic Ocean – the only large water body that is really untouched by submarine cables. While melting sea ice raises tremendous concerns for the health of our planet, it presents an entirely new opportunity to install digital links on a straight course between continents.

 

For data from Asia to reach Europe, it must travel over thousands of cable miles around Asia, up through the Suez Canal and across the Mediterranean Sea into continental Europe. And while this occurs faster than the blink of an eye (about 253 milliseconds), researchers say that data and communication could travel 30 percent faster over a shorter, more direct cable route through the Arctic.

 

 

Faster Connections Are Key

Banks and financial trading groups eagerly await faster connections. Traders depend on powerful, low latency networks to buy and sell securities where milliseconds can affect profit and loss. However, big data would also benefit. Today, internet-connected devices outnumber people on the Earth by an almost 3 to 1 margin. And experts predict that internet traffic between Europe and Asia will triple in the next five years.

 

 The Challenges

The deployment of this new cable would actually extend an existing cable route through Finland into Germany. And while a feasibility study by the Government of Finland calls the project a “win-win-win” for Europe, Russia and Asia, there are key areas of concern.

 

First, constructing this new cable route would cost nearly a billion Euros. Secondly, the icy Arctic terrain and harsh weather conditions would certainly present logistical challenges. And there are always issues involving security. However, a separate cable installation linking Tokyo and London by way of Alaska and Canada is already underway.

 

Our planet needs more almost supersonic connections. We can expect to see more efforts around the globe to reduce data “pile-ups” and speed the delivery of data and communication.

Make Way for High-Density Fiber Optic Cables

More fiber density in less space. From 5G to data centers to FTTx, the picture is clear. Everyone uses more bandwidth than ever before. And while bandwidth demand may seem endless, the space to install fiber optic cable isn’t. That’s why being able to install more optical fiber in the same or less space can be a game changer for today’s network operators. And it’s why “High Density” is also a critical word for many service providers today.

 

With microcables and rollable ribbon cables that increase fiber density while saving on space, OFS is your high-density fiber optic cable solutions provider.

 

Rolling In the Optical Fiber

Rollable Ribbon fiber optic cables are one of the most exciting outside plant (OSP) cabling technologies today. These cables feature rollable ribbons, the newest fiber ribbon design from OFS. This ribbon can be “rolled” (compacted) and routed like individual fibers, allowing the use of smaller closures and splice trays.

 

With up to 3,456 fibers, OFS AccuTube®+ Rollable Ribbon (RR) Cables help network operators double their fiber density in the same size duct or space. They also enable very efficient, cost-effective mass fusion splicing and easy individual fiber breakout. This ability helps simplify installation and save on labor costs. And by maximizing duct use, high-density AccuTube+ RR Cables are an excellent choice for connecting very large fiber distribution hubs. They are also very suitable for data centers, FTTx and access networks.

 

Taking Things Indoors……

With the award-winning AccuRiser RR and AccuFlex® RR Cables, network operators can bring the benefits of rollable ribbon cables indoors. The innovative indoor/outdoor AccuRiser RR Cable helps ease cable installation over ladder racking and through tight bends during routing. This high-density cable is excellent for use in data centers or central offices. It’s also a great choice for building-to-building cable connections along with routing for terminations and frames, and preconnectorized applications.

 

The strong yet flexible, plenum-rated AccuFlex RR Cable helps prevent installation problems such as packing density, routing and deployment speed. This cable’s flame rating meets NFPA 262, allowing the cable to be installed into air-handling spaces. The AccuFlex RR Cable is an outstanding solution for data centers, central offices and head ends.

 

With Limited Space, Go Small (and Dense)

To help solve the problem of deploying or upgrading crowded FTTx or underground networks, OFS created the high-density MiDia®Microcable family. Optimized for exceptional air-blown installation, MiDia microcables can help lower installation costs while increasing fiber optic density and capacity in limited spaces. The MiDia Cable portfolio includes MiDia Micro FX CableMiDia Micro GX Cable and MiDia200 Micro FX Cable.

 

And for network operators who prefer ribbon cables and the benefits of mass fusion splicing, OFS offers the AccuRibbon® DuctSaver® FX Cable. This cable makes optimal use of valuable duct space. It also maximizes the key advantages of air-blown microduct installation: rapid deployment and service turn-up.

 

To learn more about high-density fiber optic cables, visit our website or contact OFS at 1-800-fiberhelp.

 

 

 

Invisibility Cloaking Could Help to Secure Data Sent Over Optical Fiber

Shades of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak! A recent study in Optica describes a new way to achieve cloaking invisibility. In this method, researchers manipulated the frequency (color) of light waves passing through an object. This approach overcomes critical shortcomings in existing cloaking technologies. The research team says that this technique could help to secure data sent over optical fiber. It could also improve current technologies for sensing, telecommunications and information processing.

 

Most current cloaking devices can only conceal an object when it is illuminated with just one color of light. However, sunlight and most other light sources are broadband (i.e., they contain many colors). Also, typical cloaking solutions work by changing the dispersion path of the light around the object to be concealed.

 

The new solution avoids these problems by allowing light waves to pass through the object, rather than around it, while still avoiding any interaction between the light waves and the object.

 

To achieve this, the researchers rearranged different colors of broadband light so that the light waves passed through the object without actually “seeing” it. For example, if the object reflected green light, they would then change light in the green portion of the spectrum to another color. In this way, there would be no green light for the object to reflect. Then, once the light wave cleared the object, the cloaking device reversed the shift, returning the wave to its original state.

 

This spectral cloaking device could be useful in working with current telecommunication networks. These systems use broadband waves as data signals to transmit information over optical fiber. Spectral cloaking could selectively determine which operations are applied to a light wave and which are “made invisible” over certain periods of time. Service providers could use this capability to prevent eavesdroppers from gathering information by probing a fiber optic network with broadband light.

 

Also, providers could transmit more data over a given line by selectively removing and then reinstating colors that are used as telecommunication data signals. This capability could help to reduce “logjams” as data demands continue to explode.

 

To learn more, go HERE and HERE.

Fiber Optic Cables as Undersea Seismic Monitors?

Detecting ocean-floor seismic activity is crucial to our understanding of the interior structure and dynamic behavior of the Earth. However, with 70% of the planet’s surface covered by water and only a handful of permanent, ocean-bottom seismometer stations, very little overall seismic activity is actually recorded.

 

Now, a group of researchers from the United Kingdom, Italy and Malta have found a way to use submarine fiber optic cables already deployed on the ocean floor as seismic detectors. In a paper published in the journal Science, the research group outlines how they discovered this capability and how it would operate.

 

Giuseppe Marra, a member of the group, was testing an underground fiber cable between two locations in the United Kingdom. Noticing a small slowdown in signal delivery, he traced it to tiny vibrations bending the light. He then determined that the vibrations were caused by a remote earthquake. This discovery inspired him to explore using fiber optic cables as seismic detectors.

 

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Get Your “Splice On” With EZ!Fuse™ Splice On Connector System

Meet the new EZ!Fuse Splice On Connector (SOC) Termination System. This system offers an easier-to-use solution that is more reliable and cost-effective than other available splice on and mechanical connectors.

 

The EZ!Fuse SOC system allows for easy termination and flexibility in the field. This new splice on connector requires no field polishing or epoxy which significantly increases the quality and consistency of field connector termination. It also greatly reduces the total installation time needed when compared to traditional methods. In addition, the connector is easily assembled using a process that requires minimal skills and/or training.                                                                       (more…)

Double the Density by “Rolling in the Fiber”

OFS now offers users more ways to double their optical fiber density by expanding the AccuTube®+ Rollable Ribbon Cable product family. These new cables with 432, 576 and 864 fibers feature rollable ribbons, the newest fiber optic ribbon design from OFS. These cables are available in 100% gel-free, all-dielectric single jacket and light armor constructions.

 

Rollable ribbon fiber optic cables are one of the most exciting developments in outside plant (OSP) cabling in years. These cables can help users gain substantial time and cost savings with mass fusion splicing. And they also double the fiber density in a given size duct compared to traditional flat ribbon cable designs.

 

Each OFS rollable ribbon features 12 individual 250 µm optical fibers that are partially bonded to each other at predetermined points. These ribbons can be “rolled” into a flexible and compact bundle that offers the added benefit of improved fiber routing and handling in closure preparation.

 

This completely gel-free cable design also helps to reduce the time needed for splicing preparation by up to 80%. In addition, these rollable ribbon cables are smaller and weigh at least 35% less than conventional flat ribbon cables. This reduced weight improves cable handling and also helps to relieve the tension placed on installation poles.

 

The AccuTube+ Rollable Ribbon Cable product portfolio also features cables with 1728 fibers in both single jacket and light armor designs and 3456 fibers in a single jacket construction. All of these cables meet or exceed the requirements of Telcordia GR-20 issue 4.

 

With its ability to maximize duct utilization, the AccuTube+ Rollable Ribbon Cable is an excellent choice for connecting data centers, and serving as distribution for dense FTTx or mobile networks. To learn more about these cables, go here and here.